REGULATION | Cesar Tordesillas, Japan

Power risks loom as Tepco shuts its last reactor

Tepco shut its last operating nuclear reactor for regular maintenance, leaving just one running reactor supplying Japan's creaking power sector.


Japan has 54 reactors, but since the tsunami last March triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima plant, it has been unable to restart any reactors that have undergone maintenance due to public safety concerns.

Tepco said it shutdown the No.6 reactor at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant, the world's biggest nuclear power plant, raising concerns about a power crunch this summer when electricity demand peaks due to hot weather.

"We are likely to be able to provide stable electricity supply at the moment, but we would like to ask customers to continue conserving power," said Tepco President Toshio Nishizawa.

"We are currently closely studying the summer power supply situation. We will do our utmost to operate in a stable way and maintain our facilities," he added.

Japan's last running reactor, Hokkaido Electric's Tomari No.3, is set to go off line on May 5 for maintenance.

To avoid blackouts, utilities have restarted old fossil fuel plants and have called for power conservation, but some analysts warn of power shortages in the summer, especially given ageing fossil fuel plants could be less reliable.

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