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The government may ask businesses this summer to start work an hour earlier than usual to address the expected electricity shortage in the Tokyo area due to the heavy damage to power plants by the March 11 quake and tsunami, government sources said.

The request will be included in a set of energy-saving measures to be adopted by a government task force as an alternative to starting daylight saving time, the sources said.

An earlier start to daily work would ease demand for electricity to run air conditioners while requiring no major changes in computers and other systems by most businesses, they said.

Members of the task force are considering putting the request mainly to manufacturers.

Commercial banks and other financial institutions would unlikely be subject to the request because they may not be able to reprogram their online systems quickly enough, the sources said.

The government estimates this summer’s power shortage will reach up to 15 million kw due mainly because both Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants are not operating.

The task force earlier studied the introduction of daylight saving time as part of energy-saving measures.

In addition to Tepco’s problems, Tohoku Electric Power Co. saw its Onagawa nuclear power station damaged in the disaster and has yet to fully restore its electricity supply capacity.

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