The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry intends this month to end Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s rolling blackouts, sources said Wednesday.
To conserve power, METI plans to instead urge large-lot corporate users to limit their use of electricity in the summer, when demand typically peaks because of the need for air conditioning, the sources said. The ministry will aim to slash demand 25 percent from last summer, they said.
If the plan is enforced, it would be the first time for Japan to invoke such compulsory power consumption restrictions since the oil crisis in 1974.
“We will seek to obviate the need for rolling blackouts,” industry minister Banri Kaieda told Wednesday’s Lower House Committee on Economy and Industry.
Meanwhile, Tepco said it will dispense with rolling blackouts for a 10th straight day Thursday due to warmer weather and as a result of beefing up its power supply capacity.
A severe power shortage followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which put two Tepco nuclear plants in Fukushima out of operation. But subsequent energy conservation by users and ongoing efforts to reopen thermal power plants are expected to make it possible to end the staggered outage program this month.
From May onward, the government wants to ride out the power shortage by reducing electricity use and implementing rolling blackouts only in times of emergency.
Although the proposed government plan targets large-lot industrial power users, there will still be an electricity shortfall unless ordinary citizens make further efforts to cut energy consumption. It is not clear, however, how effective a government public appeal for energy-saving will be when it is not enforceable by law.
The government estimates there will be a maximum power shortage of 15 million kw in areas served by Tepco if there is a repeat of last summer’s record heat. The government believes rolling blackouts would exact too severe a toll on people in the intense summer heat, while power-rationing would also hurt the economy.
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