After Japan’s earthquake in March, Genkai’s city mayor has given approval to the restart of reactors in Kyushu Electric Power Co. The other reactors in the country have no restart schedule yet, and summer power outages may still occur. Prior to the earthquake incidences, 30% of Japan’s electricity was supplied by nuclear power. After the quake, only 19 of 54 reactors remained working.
Senior economist Tomomichi Akuta said Japan’s government has to show a clear time schedule and benchmark for safety requirements for restarts. He said that after Saga – which will not pave the way for others to follow unconditionally – the next target would be areas suffering from power shortage concerns. Trade and Energy Minister Banri Kaieda, despite anti-nuclear protests, swayed Saga region’s local governments into restarting nuclear reactors citing it was already safe. Upon Saga governor’s approval, Kyushu is likely to follow with its 559 megawatts No. 2 Genkai reactor to be the first to come online.
Electricity power companies take steps to save and secure minimum electricity reserves to try and avoid rolling blackouts. Customers are urged by Kyushu on Tuesday via its website to conserve electricity use. Adequate electricity supply should have a reserve margin of 8-10%. Chubu Electric Power Co’s single power plant was shut on orders for stricter safety measures by Prime Minister Naoto Kan also urged users to save energy. Its president Akihisa Mizuno said the company has no scheduled rolling blackouts.
A Saga region government official said central government officials will meet with residents on July 8 to reassure them of safety of reactors to restart. Many favor the restart and an assembly will hold a special meeting on July 11 to discuss the restart issue. The official said the outcome of the assembly’s meeting and talks with the prime minister are the conditions for Furukawa’s decision. Kyushu’s No. 2 and No. 3 Genkai reactors were ready for March and April respectively but were delayed by safety concerns. Sendai’s No. 1 is under maintenance; its No. 2 unit, in operation at present, will be shut for maintenance by September 4. Kyushu Electric operates six reactors.
Summer supply is seen at 17,280 MW but without Genkai’s No. 2, No. 3 and Sendai No. 1, supply would only reach 3.5% above forecasted peak demand. In the summer of 2010, peak demand was 16,980 MW. Japan’s March disasters caused Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant’s radiation crisis. Reactors were shutdown following the incident until safety measures are assured. Beginning July 1, large power users served by Tepco and Tohoku are asked by the government to cut consumption by 15% from 2010.