National

Hokkaido’s quake-hit Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant goes fully operational

Kyodo

A major coal-fired power plant in Hokkaido is fully back online after its last remaining unit resumed operations Wednesday, about a month after a deadly earthquake caused a prefecture-wide blackout.

The No. 2 unit of the Tomato-Atsuma power plant, which suffered damage after the Sept. 6 quake, became fully operational at 6 a.m., adding 600,000 kilowatts in output, according to its operator, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. The other two units of the plant in the town of Atsuma were brought back online last month.

The plant, capable of producing 1.65 million kW of electricity, was supplying roughly half of Hokkaido’s power at the time of the quake. Its suspension temporarily left about 2.95 million households without power.

With the restart, the utility can now provide 5.2 million kW of electricity in the prefecture, just in time for the arrival of the region’s winter season when demand for electricity increases.

Residents of Hokkaido were asked to limit their energy use in the days following the magnitude 6.7 quake, which claimed the lives of 41 and injured hundreds of others.

A separate thermal power plant in the city of Tomakomai, capable of generating 250,000 kW, is expected to resume operation at the end of October.

Hokkaido Electric had to replace 12 boiler tubes at the No. 2 unit due to steam leaks before resuming operations on a trial basis, beginning Sept. 21.

The No. 1 unit of the Tomato-Atsuma plant, whose boiler tubes also suffered damage, resumed operation on Sept. 19 and the No. 4 unit on Sept. 25 after it went offline due to a fire. The No. 3 unit was already decommissioned at the time of the quake.

A third-party panel is investigating why the extensive blackout took place.