Japan to avoid mandatory power saving in summer

TOKYO - Japan will not impose mandatory restrictions on power consumption in parts of the country this summer, relying instead on voluntary saving measures following the shutting down of nuclear power reactors, the Yomiuri newspaper said on Saturday.

Kansai Electric Power, based in Osaka, western Japan, is projecting a 14.9 percent shortage in August, the worst among the nine utilities that have nuclear plants,a g ov ernment panel concluded on Saturday.

But businesses served by Kansai, the country's No. 2 utility firm, will not be ordered to cut power because of concerns about the impact on industrial activity. Instead they will be asked to make a voluntary saving of 15 to 20 percent, Yomiuri said.

Kansai Electric will also depend on power conservation measures in other areas to help tide over the shortage, the report said.

Other utilities including Chubu Electric, Hokuriku Electric, Chugoku Electric and Shikoku Electric, which are based in western Japan, expect to have surplus supplies for summer.

Authorities will set a voluntary conservation target of 5 percent in the areas covered by these utilities to help Kansai, if it is faced with an emergency situation such as record-breaking heatwave of 2010 when consumption sky-rocketed, the newspaper said.

The government will also set a power reduction target of about 12 percent for Kyushu Electric Power Co's areas in southwestern Japan and ta cut of 7 to 8 percent in the northernmost utility Hokkaido Electric Power's service areas, the report added.

Japan will set no power saving target for areas served by Tokyo Electric Power and Tohoku Electric, the report said, without citing sources.

Industry minister Yukio Edano and other officials have been trying to win the support of local communities to reactivate two idled reactors at Kansai Electric's Ohi nuclear power plant, But the government faces an uphill battle in the face of public concern following last year's Fukushima nuclear crisis in the wake of a huge earthquake and tsunami.

The government is expected to formally decide the details of the power saving plan as early as next week.

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