Govt to urge power saving

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
An employee of Kyushu Electric Power Co., left, distributes a flyer to a passerby and asks for his cooperation in saving electricity, on a commercial street in Fukuoka City in December 2015.

The government has asked households and businesses nationwide to reduce electricity consumption from Thursday through the end of March next year, though it will not set numerical targets.

This is the first time in seven years that a request will be made to save electricity during the winter, with the last such request having been issued in fiscal 2015.

Although at present the electricity reserve ratio, which indicates the surplus capacity of the power supply, is above the minimum 3% required for a stable supply, the supply of electricity remains tight relative to demand.

For areas served by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Tohoku Electric Power Co., the reserve margin is expected to be 4.1% in January. The reserve margin is expected to be 5.6% in the same month for areas served by six other companies, including Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co.

Although reserves are expected to remain above the necessary 3% margin, risks remain, such as the possibility of a disruption in the supply of Russian liquefied natural gas or an unexpected shut down of thermal power plants.

“The supply of electricity remains tight relative to demand. I would like to ask the nation to save as much energy as possible,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a news conference Tuesday.

As specific measures to save electricity, households are asked to use lower temperature settings with heating appliances and to turn off lights in unused rooms. According to an estimate by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, households can cut their daily electricity consumption by 2.7% by lowering their HVAC’s heat setting from 22 C to 20 C, while office buildings can cut their daily electricity consumption by 7.7% by turning off about half their lights.