Eco-point program scratched as power-saving ploy

Kyodo News

A plan to extend the Eco-point program for purchasing energy-efficient appliances to promote energy conservation after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has been scrapped, officials said Monday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had planned to reintroduce the program just for the quake-hit Tohoku and Kanto regions after it expires Thursday, but determined that doing so won’t have much of an effect on saving energy.

The government is thus planning to draft more comprehensive energy-saving measures by the end of April.

The incentive program, originally designed to help cut carbon emissions and boost consumer spending, offers Eco-points to those who buy designated air conditioners, refrigerators and television sets. The points can be exchange later to purchase other goods and services.

The quake and ensuing tsunami have crippled a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, and its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has been using rolling blackouts to save energy and avert a wider regional blackout.

The crisis at Fukushima No. 1 has sparked fears that Tepco won’t be able to supply enough electricity to Tokyo and other areas this summer, when demand for air conditioning normally surges.