The government on Tuesday launched a voluntary power-saving campaign for businesses and households in all parts of Japan except Okinawa, in order to conserve electricity.
It is the first summer since the March 2011 disaster that all of the nation's nuclear reactors have been offline for the summer and the government is concerned there may be a power shortage, especially during the hottest part of summer.
The three-month campaign lasts from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. (except Aug 13-15) until Sept 30. However, the government has not set any numerical targets. After the March 2011 disaster, the government set numerical power-saving targets in the summers of 2011 and 2012, but did not do so last year.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it doesn't expect there will be power shortages this summer but wants to be prepared just in case, Sankei Shimbun reported. Utilities say they have the minimum 3% reserve in power supplies.
The ministry is once again encouraging manufacturing companies to shift working hours this summer with some employees working nights and holidays, to avoid peak-demand hours. Train and subway stations will switch off some escalators and station lighting after rush hour.
Overall, the nine local power monopolies project a supply surplus of 4.6% in August, barely above the 3% minimum required, the ministry panel on power projects.
Power supply is likely to be tightest in western Japan where utilities that relied on nuclear energy for as much as half of their power supply in the past are the worst off. Blackout should be avoided, though, as companies swap power among themselves to keep overall supply above the minimum.
Kansai Electric, supplier of nearly a fifth of Japan's power, and Kyushu Electric barely achieved the minimum 3% margin last summer, the lowest of the nine companies, even after receiving power from Tokyo Electric in eastern Japan and help from other western utilities.
Kyushu's Sendai nuclear plant in southwestern Japan is on the fast-track for the safety review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and the plant's two reactors are the only ones among the nation's 48 that could resume power generation this summer, possibly as early as August.© Japan Today