Rolling blackouts this summer averted by public power-saving efforts


Kansai Electric Power Co. and three other utilities are likely to avoid rolling blackouts this summer because public and private conservation efforts have kept power demand comfortably in check, officials said Thursday.

In Kepco’s area, where the supply-demand situation was played up as a crisis, power use peaked on Aug. 3 but was actually 13 percent lower than the peak logged during the record-hot summer of 2010, reaching only 26.82 million kw.

In Kyushu, maximum demand was 15.21 million kw on July 26, down about 13 percent from its 2010 peak.

In fact, maximum power demand from July through Thursday in 90 percent of the nation’s power utilities fell by about 8 to 16 percent compared with 2010 levels, data made available by the utilities showed.

In Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s region, demand this summer has only reached a high of 50.38 million kw so far, down about 16 percent from the 2010 high. That high occurred on July 27.

The government used dire warnings of electricity shortages to justify the restart of two nuclear reactors at Kepco’s Oi plant in Shiga Prefecture, casting doubt on local conservation efforts.

Quake insurance sales up

More than half of the households nationwide that bought fire insurance in fiscal 2011 opted for earthquake coverage as well, topping 50 percent for the first time ever, an industry body said Thursday.

The devastating earthquake in March last year stimulated demand for quake insurance, according to the Non-Life Insurance Rating Organization of Japan.

Quake insurance is sold as an option to fire insurance policies. Of all fire policies sold during the year that ended in March, 53.7 percent included quake insurance coverage, up 5.6 points from the previous year and exceeding 50 percent for the first time since compilation of such data began in fiscal 2001, the organization said.

The highest ratio, 81.1 percent, was registered in Miyagi Prefecture, one of the three most severely damaged by last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami. Fukushima Prefecture, which was ravaged by the catastrophe and a nuclear disaster, posted the largest rise, of 18.0 points, to 58.1 percent.

As of the end of fiscal 2011, 26.0 percent of households nationwide were covered by quake insurance, up 2.3 points from a year earlier.

¥180 billion in subsidies

The Reconstruction Agency said Friday it will provide a combined ¥180.6 billion in subsidies to support local efforts to rebuild from last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

The money will be distributed to the governments of four disaster-hit prefectures and 56 municipalities in nine prefectures to help residents put their lives back in order. It will be the third tranche of subsidies to be provided for reconstruction and will exceed the requests by 27 percent.

A total of ¥59.2 billion will be allocated for collective relocation of damaged communities to safer places. The construction of around 6,400 houses is expected to start in 77 communities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures by December.