Japan business lobby: sticking to 25 percent energy-saving

Reuters News
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Posted: May 04, 2011 9:41 AM
Japan business lobby: sticking to 25 percent energy-saving

By Risa Maeda

TOKYO (Reuters) - Big companies in Japan will stick to a 25 percent power-saving target for the summer even if quake-hit Tokyo Electric Power Co adds more electricity capacity, and should be able to carry out business as normal, Japan's biggest business lobby said on Tuesday.

A wealth of seemingly tiny measures such as staggered summer holidays for different firms, using in house power generators, switching off vending machines and cutting air conditioner use will likely mean that any downside risk to the economy from power shortages should be eliminated, Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the lobby, told a news conference.

The lobby, the Nippon Keidanren, has called on its member companies and associations to hand in plans to cut energy consumption by 25 percent from peak usage as Japan grapples with a shortage of power after last month's earthquake and tsunami shut down several big nuclear and thermal stations.

"We should stick to plans based on the tough target of minus 25 percent as much as possible," Yonekura said.

The biggest pinch will come in summer when air-conditioning usage peaks.

But once the peak season is over, companies do not need to save so much power as that would hurt Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric Power Co's earnings, he added.

CURBS ON POWER USAGE

Tokyo Electric, which supplies one-third of Japan's electricity, said on April 15 it would be able to supply 52,000 megawatts of power at the end of July, still short of an estimated peak of up to 60,000 MW.

Since then, it has said it will install several new power generators by summer and media has reports that the government is likely to ease the 25 percent curb on electricity use for big Tokyo-area manufacturers.

"Power demand would depend on how hot the weather will be in summer. (The government's power-saving target) could be lowered to 15 or 10 percent," said Yonekura, who is also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical Co.

"Having said that, we should be well prepared for something unexpected and not trigger rolling blackouts or cause a sudden loss of power in broad areas."

Sumitomo Chemical, for example, plans to share power with Fuji Oil, a unit of AOC Holdings, which will enable them to maintain normal output at their facilities in Chiba.

So far, large power users accounting for 40 percent of peak summer consumption have submitted their energy-saving.

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)