REGULATION | Cesar Tordesillas, Japan

Kansai Electric to aks for voluntary power usage cut

Kansai Electric will ask businesses and households to voluntarily reduce their power usage this summer by 15%.

The company is hard-pressed to restart idled nuclear reactors amid heightened public concern over safety.

Two of its reactors, one each at the Takahama and Oi power plants in Fukui Prefecture, are to shut down next month for regular inspections. Six of Kansai Electric’s 11 reactors will thus be offline, creating a roughly 5% shortage in its supply capacity during peak hours if this summer turns out to be a hot one.

A number of reactors remain idle after having been shut down for regular inspections or as part of emergency procedures right after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The central government has stepped up efforts to persuade localities to withdraw their objections to restarting idled reactors. Unless these efforts succeed, Kansai Electric plans to ask for the voluntary reduction in power usage.

Unlike volume users supplied by Tokyo Electric Power Co.  or Tohoku Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric customers will not be legally obligated to curb their usage. But the request may still have a negative impact on manufacturing activity in western Japan, where some firms facing mandatory power cuts in the disaster-hit east have been planning to hike production.

Kansai Electric serves Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara, Shiga and Wakayama prefectures, as well as some parts of Mie, Gifu and Fukui prefectures.

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