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Kansai Electric to Shut Reactor as Japan Power Shortage Worsens

Kansai Electric Power Co. will shut a reactor at one of its nuclear plants, the second of three being halted this week, worsening shortages that have prompted Japan to invoke mandatory electricity-saving measures.

The main supplier to Japan’s second-largest economic region will idle the 870-megawatt No. 4 reactor at its Takahama station today, according to a maintenance schedule provided by the operator last week. The utility will start the shutdown later today and complete the operation by tomorrow, spokesman Kazushige Maeda said by phone today.

Two-thirds of Japan’s 54 reactors are shut down after the March 11 earthquake caused three meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in the nation’s northeast. Units closed for maintenance have been prevented from coming back online by local officials concerned about the safety of the country’s nuclear power industry after the disaster.

Japan’s government will ask customers of Kansai Electric to reduce electricity use by more than 10 percent, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said yesterday.

Kansai Electric rose as much as 1.3 percent to 1,460 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and traded at 1,453 yen at 11 a.m.

The utility faces a shortage of as much as 6.6 percent of generating capacity in August due to reactor closures, spokesman Masaki Toratake said on July 17. The company asked customers to reduce power consumption by 15 percent in June and will continue requesting cuts by households and businesses in western Japan, he said.

The national government started requiring heavy users including Toyota Motor Corp. to cut back on electricity consumption in northern Japan on July 1, marking the first mandatory power-saving measures since the 1970s. Manufacturers have changed working hours and shifted production to weekends.

Chugoku Electric Power Co., which planned to sell spare capacity to Kansai, said earlier it was forced to shut a unit at its Misumi thermal power station due to a steam leak.

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