Japan’s government will ask energy users in parts of the country to cut consumption by more than 10 percent this winter as more nuclear reactors go offline without timetables for restarts after the Fukushima disaster.
Consumers in the area covered by Kansai Electric Power Co., the country’s most reliant utility on nuclear energy, will need to save power by more than a tenth, the government said today. Kansai Electric, which will have all but one of its reactors offline by the end of the year, said yesterday it expects to report a full-year loss because of higher fossil fuel costs to run power stations.
Japan’s fuel costs may rise by about 3 trillion yen ($38 billion) if liquefied natural gas and oil is used to generate 280 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, the amount produced by nuclear plants in the year ended March 2010, the government said.
Japan, the third-most nuclear reliant country before the Fukushima disaster, has less than a fifth of its 54 reactors operating, either because they were shut down by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami or because of scheduled maintenance. None have been restarted after the three meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, which stoked public concern about the safety of atomic power.
“We have made an action plan that avoids scheduled blackouts and mandatory power saving,” Tsuyoshi Saito, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters in Tokyo. “It will be reviewed in spring next year.”
Companies and households supplied by Kansai Electric will be asked to voluntarily reduce power use between Dec. 19 and March 23, the government said in a statement. Cuts of more than 5 percent will be requested in Kyushu, southwestern Japan through Feb. 3, it said.
Japan’s power supply may fall short of demand by 9.2 percent next summer if reactors shut for safety checks and maintenance don’t restart and if demand is as high as last year, which was a record, the government said.
Blackouts and mandatory power consumption restrictions aren’t expected, it said.
The government imposed the first mandatory restrictions since the 1970s after the quake and tsunami, covering areas supplied by Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric Power Co. Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant is still leaking radiation.
Japan’s government plans to promote the use of so-called smart meters and energy conservation to reduce power demand by 9,800 megawatts by next summer. The government also aims to increase electricity supply by 6,420 megawatts by expanding thermal, hydro and renewable energy capacity
The government will issue voluntary power-savings requests during winter to customers in areas served by Tokyo Electric, Chubu Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co. (9505), Chugoku Electric Power Co., Tohoku Electric, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. without targets, it said.