July 9, 2012 / 7:13 AM / 6 years ago

Japan to relax summer power saving targets in industrial west

TOKYO, July 9 (Reuters) - Japan will reduce power saving
targets in its industrialised west from Tuesday as one of the
first two idled reactors to restart since the Fukushima nuclear
crisis reaches capacity, helping companies based in the region
such as Panasonic Corp and Sharp Corp.
    The government said that the voluntary goal for the area
serviced by Kansai Electric Power Co would be decreased
to using at least 10 percent less power than a record hot summer
in 2010, from an earlier target of 15 percent. It added that
further cuts were on the cards. 
    The government approved the restart of the No.3 and No.4
units at Kansai's Ohi plant to avoid a possible summer power
crunch, though critics say Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is
caving in to Japan's "nuclear village" - a powerful nexus of
utilities, bureaucrats and businesses. 
    The return of full power generation at the 1,180 megawatt
No.3 unit at the Ohi plant will boost Kansai's peak-hour supply
by some 1,700 MW, lowering the chances of rolling blackouts or
the need to call on neighbouring utilities to share any of their
surplus energy.
    Japanese manufacturers were badly hit by uncertainty over
electricity supplies in the wake of the crisis at Tokyo Electric
Power Co's (Tepco) Fukushima atomic plant, the world's
worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
    Voluntary cuts in areas serviced by three neighbouring
utilities - Chubu Electric, Hokuriku Electric 
and Chugoku Electric - will also be lowered from
    Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government
would further adjust its targets when the 1,180 MW No.4 Ohi unit
comes online later this month. 
    He said that when that facility reaches capacity, numerical
targets could be scrapped for Chubu, Hokuriku and Chugoku, while
voluntary cuts at Shikoku Electric Power Co could be
lowered to 5 percent from 7 percent currently. 
    Customers of another nuclear-reliant utility in the north,
Hokkaido Electric Power Co, have also been asked to
save power by 7 percent from 2010 levels from July 23. 
    But those in areas supplied by Tepco and Tohoku Electric
Power Co face no numerical targets this summer after
the two utilities boosted capacity at fossil-fuel power plants. 
    Large users there had to endure mandatory power cuts last
summer after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the
Fukushima Daiichi facility.
    Public safety concerns over nuclear power remain deep, with
surveys showing about 70 percent of voters want the country to
ditch nuclear eventually. 
    Following are current power saving targets by the six
utilities in central and western Japan, effective on July 2, and
those from Tuesday, both relative to the summer of 2010:
                                Chubu Kansai
Hokuriku Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu
Current targets    5 pct  15 pct  5 pct  5 pct  7 pct 10 pct    
From July 10       4 pct  10 pct  4 pct  3 pct   same above     

 (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi and Risa Maeda)
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