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Monday, April 18, 2011


Coping with power shortages

The government has set down a policy outline for overcoming the power shortage this summer, which will be inevitable due to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Under the outline, the government will invoke a relevant law, but there will be no planned rolling outages. Efforts to save power on the part of enterprises and households will be crucial.

It is estimated that the power supply will be a maximum 15 million kW short in areas serviced by Tepco and 3.3 million kW short in areas serviced by Tohoku Electric Power Co. Demand will be curbed by 10 million kW in the former and 2.8 million kW in the latter areas. Tepco will try to increase the supply by 5 million kW and Tohoku Electric Power Co. by 500,000 kW through restoration of defunct hydraulic and thermal power plants and by newly building gas turbine power plants.

The government calls on major industrial users, whose power contracts mention 500 kW or more electricity, to curb use of power by 25 percent from July through September. The reduction goals for smaller industrial users and households are 20 percent and between 15 to 20 percent, respectively. Saving power in households is as important as in enterprises because households use about one-third of the total electricity supply. People can save power in ways that aren't difficult. For example, if one raises the temperature of an air conditioner by 1 degree C, one can save about 10 percent of the electricity used by the machine.

Diversifying power sources will help overcome the shortage. The government should push a policy that will utilize renewable power sources on a large scale and enable small power supply entities to flourish.

The current market structure in which major power companies make profits by monopoly must change. Apart from changes in the supply side, the power shortage should be viewed as a chance to end mass electricity consumption.

People and enterprises should realize that the age of unlimited use of electricity is over.

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