Japan government tells businesses and homes to cut power use 25%
Hiroshima (Platts)--8Apr2011/750 am EDT/1150 GMT
The Japanese government on Friday told businesses and domestic users to
cut power usage by as much as 25% from July, ignoring industry suggestions of
alternative ways of coping with the national energy crisis.
The Japan Automotive Manufacturers Association had called for a
"rotational output suspension", with different industries stopping production
on different days of the week, while the Japan Aluminum Association proposed a
cap on power usage by companies.
The government's plan announced Friday said companies in the service area
of Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, and Tohoku Electric Power Company
will be asked to cut power usage by 20-25% from July to September, when power
consumption peaks on air conditioning demand.
Large consumers, whose power usage exceeds 500 kWh, will have to cut
power demand by 25% from 10:00-21:00 (0100-1200 GMT) on weekdays, with users
of less than 500 kWh down 20%, and homes 15-20%, the government said.
One source in the automotive industry said the plan seemed to have been
drawn up with little consultation with the affected industries.
"The automakers were not asked...and the government statement is not
clear whether it seeks to control power usage on the basis of one site, or on
a company who could be operating several plants," said one source familiar
with the auto industry's discussions with the government.
It was not immediately clear how the plan would be enforced.
A steel mill source said the electric arc furnaces making steel were
operating at off peak hours during the night, and asked if they would still be
required to cut power usage.
The measure will be implemented under article 27 of Japan's utility act
that allows the Minister of Economy, Trade & Industry to control power
availability to users in times of power shortage.
The power cut scheme will affect businesses and homes in Tepco's service
areas -- Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Yamanashi and
Shizuoka prefectures, and Tokyo -- and those of Tohoku Electric -- Akita,
Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, Yamagata, Fukushima and Niigata prefectures.
Government data showed that Tepco supplied 6.5 TWh of power to industries
in February: 1.4 TWh to the machinery manufacturing sector which includes
automotives, 631 GWh to the steel sector and 344 GWh to the nonferrous metal
The year-on-year usage growth in February was the highest for the steel
sector at 17.8%, while the industrial average was 3.3%.
"We will be studying the possible impacts of the government call, to
seek an industry-wide solution possibly [in addition to power saving efforts
to be made by individual mills]," said a spokesman for the Japan Iron & Steel
Among the nonferrous metal plants in Tepco's service areas, the stringent
25% cut will be applied to Fukaya aluminum rolling mill operated by Furukawa
Sky, the Moka aluminum rolling mill by Kobe Steel, and the 3,000 mt/year
ferromolybdenum plant of Taenaka Kogyo.
Secondary aluminum smelters use fuel oil as well as electricity, and they
may not be as severely hit as the large rolling mils, said one smelter source.
--Mayumi Watanabe, email@example.com
Similar stories appear in Power in Asia.
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