Japan sets power cut goals to avoid summer blackouts

Updated: 2011-04-08 14:31


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TOKYO - Japan's government set targets on Friday for sharp cuts in power use in Tokyo and northern Japan in the peak summer months to avoid rolling blackouts that could severely damage the economy, calling on big industrial users to reduce use by one-fourth.

The trade ministry estimated the targets would cut total peak demand by 15 million kilowatts for the areas served by Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co, enough to fill a projected supply gap after last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami shut down several big nuclear and thermal power stations.

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Trade Minister Banri Kaieda said the two utilities would not, in principle, resort to rolling power blackouts.

Rolling blackouts by Tokyo Electric last month due to damage from the disaster severely disrupted activity in Japan's economic heartland around the capital.

The government's targets call for 25 percent reductions in power use by the two utilities' major users during the peak summer demand season, while seeking 20 percent cuts from small industrial users and 15-20 percent cuts from households.

Tokyo Electric is scrambling to secure enough power for the capital area's factories and air-conditioners this summer after the March 11 disaster took out 23 percent of its generating capacity, including the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear complex in northeastern Japan.

The trade ministry has estimated that, with a particularly hot summer like last year's, peak power production could fall short of demand by as much as 15 million kilowatts, although Tokyo Electric estimates it could bring more supply on line than the ministry has assumed, while users have been curtailing demand.


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