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Expect rolling blackouts this summer

June 24, 2012

4 utility firms devise plans for rolling blackouts

Kansai Electric Power Co. and three other power companies have said they will implement rolling blackouts in their service areas this summer when power supply capacity is expected to exceed peak demand by less than 1 percent.

Such blackouts, designed to avoid sudden, massive outages, would last about two hours, according to the companies, which also include Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co.

The power utilities will issue warnings first, and then take the action unless electricity consumption in their services areas shows signs of dropping below 99 percent of capacity.

Kansai Electric, which is expected to face the tightest power supply-demand situation in the nation, will proceed with rolling blackouts, if necessary, on weekdays from July 2 to Sept. 7 by dividing its service area into 48 groups.

Its clients would basically have no power once a day, though the possibility cannot be ruled out there would be two rounds of blackouts, Kansai Electric said.

Masao Ikoma, executive vice president of Kansai Electric, told a press conference that the company will make all-out efforts to maintain a stable supply of electricity in its service area in Osaka and surrounding prefectures.

Meanwhile, Kyushu Electric and Shikoku Electric said if rolling blackouts become unavoidable, they will come from July 2 to Sept 7. Hokkaido Electric said it may stop power supplies sometime from July 23 to Sept. 14.

Based on the policy of the central government, the four companies will continue transmitting electricity to medical institutions, police stations and fire department facilities. They will also try to do so as far as they can for public transportation systems.

In the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami last year, Tokyo Electric Power Co. conducted rolling blackouts for 10 days in its service area mainly in eastern Japan, because many of its power stations went offline. The move created turmoil in the area including Tokyo, such as train service halts, and even caused fatal accidents at intersections with nonfunctioning traffic lights.


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