System must be effective to encourage public cooperation

With the supply and demand balance for electricity expected to continue to be tight, it is important to effectively implement measures to improve the situation.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced the establishment of a system to award points to households that help conserve electricity, and the points can be used for shopping and other purposes.

Some electric power companies plan to partially start in July at the earliest programs to give users points based on the amount of power they save. The government will provide funds for additional points, in a bid to support the endeavors.

It is understandable that the government is offering benefits to encourage cooperation in conserving power. These efforts are also expected to help curb the increasing burden of electricity rates, which are the result of soaring resource prices.

TEPCO Energy Partner, Inc. will call for energy conservation via emails the day before a predicted power crunch and give households points equivalent to ¥5 for every kilowatt-hour below the standard value, based on their average usage in the past. These points can be used for shopping.

In addition to Tokyo Gas Co., which has entered the electric power business, Chubu Electric Power Co. and other electric power companies also plan to implement points programs.

However, it has been pointed out that the average household could earn points worth only several tens of yen a month via the program of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.

To boost the power-saving effect, the government is considering offering ¥2,000 worth of points to households participating in the energy-saving programs and giving them additional points based on the amount of electricity they save.

These programs should function in a way that households can fully realize the benefits.

For households that have always strived to conserve electricity, such programs are said to be less beneficial regarding a reduction in electricity consumption. Creating a fair system will be key.

It is also important to inform the public in an easy-to-understand manner about what kind of energy-conservation measures can be implemented and how effective they can be.

Not going too far on saving electricity through the use of air conditioners is necessary, so as not to suffer from heatstroke, but shortening one’s use by an hour a day and setting the temperature between 27 C and 28 C can save about ¥1,300 of electricity costs over a summer.

Changing the temperature setting of refrigerators from colder to medium can also save more than ¥1,600 a year.

In addition to these efforts, it is hoped that the introduction of the points system will further promote power conservation in daily life.

Electric power companies must also increase their supply capacity. At the request of the government, two suspended thermal power plants in Chiba Prefecture and Aichi Prefecture will come back online. It is desirable to take full advantage of usable facilities with safety measures in place.

Making efforts to work toward restarting nuclear power plants whose safety has been confirmed is vital, through measures such as lobbying local governments for their consent.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 27, 2022)