The industry ministry will ask households and companies in Kansai to reduce electricity usage by 15 to 20 percent in the summer to prevent power shortages in the vulnerable region, sources said.
The service area of Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), which includes the major cities of Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto, is easily the most at risk of electricity shortages now that all nuclear reactors in the nation are offline, the sources said.
“It is obvious that electricity saving is necessary to some degree (in KEPCO’s service area),” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said in a news conference on May 7. “As for how to deal with the issue, we will decide in a meeting of Cabinet members next week.”
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry concluded that an electricity shortage of about 15 percent will be unavoidable during peak summer demand unless nuclear reactors are running, the sources said.
The government wants to restart two reactors at KEPCO’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, but has run into staunch opposition in light of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
In addition to asking households and companies to conserve electricity, the ministry is considering issuing an ordinance that obliges companies in KEPCO’s service area to cut their summer power usage, the sources said.
A government committee checking power supply and demand throughout the country is close to finalizing its calculations for possible power shortages in the summer.
According to the calculations, peak hours of power usage will occur on afternoons in August, but the electricity supply of nine utilities—excluding Okinawa Electric Power Co.--will fall 0.4 percent short of total demand, or “minus 0.4 percent.”
The committee took into account electricity generated through other means, such as pumping water at night and discharging it during the day.
But even if those measures are taken, the overall power supply will only improve from “minus 0.4 percent” to a “range between minus 0.3 percent and plus 0.1 percent.”
KEPCO’s service area has the bleakest supply prospects, at “minus 16.3 percent” of peak demand in the summer. If other power-generating measures are taken, the supply situation will improve to a “range between minus 15.7 percent and minus 14.9 percent.”
Extra measures will also increase supply in the area serviced by Hokkaido Electric Power Co. from “minus 3.1 percent” to “minus 1.9 percent.” And for Kyushu Electric Power Co., electricity supply will rise from “minus 3.7 percent” to a maximum “minus 2.2 percent.”
The committee is also discussing how much electricity can be offered from electric power companies with surplus electricity to utilities facing possible power shortages. However, it will be difficult to drastically improve the situation for KEPCO.
The industry ministry concluded that a power shortage of about 15 percent will be unavoidable in KEPCO’s service area, and that asking households and companies to cut electricity usage by 15 percent to 20 percent was the only solution under the current circumstances, the sources said.
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