In order to alleviate a power shortage this summer, the government on Friday implemented a compulsory power usage cut of 15% for large-scale users within Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co service areas for the first time in 37 years. Subject to the mandatory restrictions, which run from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m, are customers who conclude electricity supply-demand contracts directly with TEPCO and Tohoku EPCO whose power usage exceeds 500 kilowatts. Any intentional violations of these restrictions may result in a fine of up to 1 million yen, said government officials.
The government will issue an impending power supply alert if it foresees that the power supply demand ratio will exceed 97%. If demand looks like exceeding 99%, planned blackouts -- which were originally planned but later shelved -- will be put into effect.
Many manufacturers, including automakers, have already changed their production schedules from weekdays to weekends to deal with the new policy.
Movements to encourage cutbacks in electricity usage in households will also start. TEPCO and Tohoku Electric customers who register with the power conservation site of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) can view their household's energy consumption for the months of July through September of last year. If households succeed in reducing their energy consumption by 15%, they will be eligible to participate in a drawing to win prizes such as TVs and digital cameras.
TEPCO started an electricity forecast webpage on Friday to help encourage energy conservation. The restrictions will last until Sept 22.© Compiled from news reports