Kepco woes mean Kansai must use less juice: Edano

Kyodo

The government is expected to ask people in the Kansai region to save more electricity after a reactor at the Oi nuclear plant was manually shut down over the weekend due to a problem with its cooling system, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday.

“The shutdown will have a big impact on the power supply in the service area of Kansai Electric Power Co.,” Edano said at a news conference.

He also said Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s shutdown Monday of a coal-fired plant in Shimane Prefecture would affect energy supply and demand prospects in west Japan.

“Due to a tight supply and demand situation, I believe that a specific request for cooperation to save energy will be made, especially to people in the service area of Kansai Electric,” Edano said, adding that the government will announce measures to tackle a power crunch within several days.

Chugoku Electric has a contract to supply power to Kepco, which serves major cities, including Osaka and Kyoto, in the Kinki region and parts of central Japan.

The No. 1 reactor at Kepco’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture was halted Saturday after a pressure level in its emergency core cooling system fell below the required level. The country’s second-largest utility is investigating the cause of the glitch.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan defended his comments last week about building a society that doesn’t rely on nuclear energy, as opposition lawmakers grilled him in the Diet about what they say was an out-of-the-blue statement about national energy policy.