October 6, 2022

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Japan issued its first-ever warning on energy supplies amid shortages

Japan issued its first-ever warning on energy supplies amid shortages

Houses and buildings in electrical shutdown in the area after an earthquake at the Toshima Pavilion in Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

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TOKYO (Reuters) – The Japanese government on Tuesday issued its first-ever warning about power supplies amid electricity shortages after last week’s earthquake shut down several plants, with the deficit exacerbated by technical problems that affected Tokyo Electricity Co..

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has issued a warning for areas supplied by Tokyo Electric Corporation (TEPCO) and Tohoku Electric Power Company in anticipation of higher demand to meet heating needs as temperatures drop. The government also called on citizens to reduce their energy consumption.

“We request your cooperation to save electricity as much as possible, such as setting the thermostat at around 20 degrees Celsius and turning off any unnecessary lights,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference.

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Matsuno added that the energy demand is not likely to extend beyond Tuesday due to the expected rise in temperatures and the addition of more solar power generation as the weather improves.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan last Wednesday, destroying equipment and forcing six thermal power plants in areas served by TEPCO. (9501.T) and Tohoku Electric (9506.T) to shut down. Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda earlier told parliament that some of these factories could take weeks or months to return to work.

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In Tokyo, snow fell on Tuesday with temperatures expected to peak at just 4°C (39.2°F), compared with 14°C on Monday.

Coinciding with the supply warning, TEPCO said on Tuesday that technical problems had caused power outages to 2,120 households in three prefectures near Tokyo as of 11:34 a.m. (0234 GMT).

Hiroshi Okamoto, CEO of TEPCO Power Grid, told reporters at a government press conference that the blackout was unrelated to the power shortage.

TEPCO said it had no plans to conduct any planned outages, but warned of the possibility of a blackout in the evening. The company has requested seven regional utilities to provide electricity supply of 1.42 million kilowatts.

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(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi and Kantaro Komiya); Additional reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu and Sakura Murakami; Editing by Chang Ran Kim and Christian Schmolinger

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