Kepco to delay regular checks at 13 thermal plants

JIJI

Kansai Electric Power Co. officials revealed Tuesday that 13 of the utility’s 28 thermal plants will have their regular checks postponed to keep them online this summer.

Kepco plans to operate all its thermal power plants at full capacity in July. The postponement of the checks, held every two to four years, is a last resort to increase power output in the wake of the suspension of all its 11 nuclear reactors.

The industry ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has already approved putting off legally required checks at seven plants, which will now happen no sooner than October, according to the officials.

Voluntary checks will be postponed at six other thermal power plants.

If the coming summer is as hot as the one in 2010, Kepco expects to face a power shortage of up to 19.3 percent in July, even considering power-saving efforts by users, if no halted nuclear reactors are restarted.

About 60 percent of its output in July, or 14.25 million kw, will be covered by thermal power.

To minimize the risk of equipment failure, the company will conduct more rigorous daily checks and keep enough supplies on hand to ensure quick restarts in case of a glitch, the officials said.

Last year, the No. 1 unit of Kepco’s thermal power plant in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, was suspended for a month due to trouble with a motor.

Also, at its thermal plant in Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, the No. 2 unit was suspended for 2½ months due to a gas turbine failure.