Kepco to call for winter power saving by firms

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. Chairman Shosuke Mori has indicated the utility will call on manufacturers to save electricity to avoid winter power shortages if it is unable to restart nuclear reactors currently suspended for regular checkups.

Power shortages stemming from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant “will likely be more severe (in the coming winter) than this summer,” Mori said at a news conference in Osaka that he attended as chairman of the Kansai Economic Federation.

By suggesting a prolonged suspension of the halted reactors would heavily affect economic activities, Mori was apparently urging the central and local governments hosting nuclear plants to work toward quickly resuming their operations.

Ten of the company’s 11 reactors will be suspended by the end of this year if the units undergoing regular checkups remain offline, while some of its thermal plants will also be closed for inspections and maintenance, according to Kansai Electric.

The government said electricity demand in the utility’s service area for the winter is estimated to run as high as 26.65 million kw, which would exceed its supply capacity of 24.40 million kw.

The utility will ask manufacturers to prepare for winter energy saving immediately after this summer’s mandatory curb on power consumption ends Sept. 22, Mori added.

As for this summer, he said, electricity demand in the service area dropped 9.4 percent from a year earlier in August due to power-saving efforts by businesses and households.

“We can get through this if the situation doesn’t change a lot,” Mori said.

Kazuo Sumi, president of railway operator Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc., who also attended the news conference, noted it is possible to keep reducing power consumption in the coming winter by cutting down on train operations and refraining from using air conditioning units.