Business

Japan to assist creation of local power providers that function even during blackouts

JIJI

The Environment Ministry plans to create a financial aid program to encourage the establishment of community-based power providers that could supply energy locally if disasters bring large-scale outages.

The program will assist the creation of independent systems involving renewable energy facilities, transmission grids and storage batteries, sources said Friday.

The move comes after a municipally funded power provider in the Chiba Prefecture town of Mutsuzawa supplied electricity to a roadside rest station when Typhoon Faxai caused a blackout across the whole town in September. The area is primarily serviced by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. Residents in town-managed public housing next to the rest station and another 800 nearby residents were able to use its toilets and take showers.

The ministry wants similar systems to be built in many other parts of the country, the sources said. It hopes to secure funds for the financial aid program under the government’s planned supplementary budget for fiscal 2019.

Mutsuzawa’s independent power firm uses locally produced natural gas and a solar power system to supply electricity to the rest station and the public housing. With underground power cables left unscathed by the typhoon, it was able to supply electricity during and after the disaster.

The ministry has already been encouraging local governments to launch community-based power providers that use renewable energy as a measure to fight global warming.