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The eventual restoration of Japan’s pre-March 11 electric power-generating capacity — I don’t know, one, two or five years from now — might not mean the end of the current energy shortage that Japan is experiencing. Do people think that once capacity is restored, they can flip switches and return to how it was?

There might be no going back, and frugal energy saving might well become the new norm. Currently, to save power, many businesses have reduced their operating hours and dimmed their lights, scaled back elevator and escalator services, deactivated street lights, and removed light bulbs and fluorescent tubes from their sockets, as the government has ordered an across-the-board 15 percent conservation of electricity.

Perhaps many train locomotives and cars are sitting idle in depots and garages indefinitely because train companies have trimmed their schedules. I worry about the humid summer time, when air conditioners will be left idle, or thermostats set higher, and room temperatures will be left to rise.

When power eventually is restored, we cannot just turn on all those appliances and bring trains back online. First, workers will have to climb ladders to re-install light bulbs and tubes. Next, elevators, escalators and trains might be in poor condition from prolonged disuse. They will all have to be inspected and probably serviced in some way — lubricated, parts replaced and tested, cleaned, etc. Then, before they are turned on, there will be those awful, long and useless meetings that Japan is famous for.

A host of impediments might make powering up at some point in the future more difficult than powering down has been — or more difficult than many people yet realize, anyway.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

grant piper

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