Japan Update: As of 20:15, 27/May, TOKYO
Some power-cut goals eased / Hospitals, railways not subject to summer energy-saving targets
Hospitals, railways and about 30 other public services will be exempt from a 15 percent power-reduction order to be imposed on major electricity consumers serviced by Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co. this summer, the government announced Wednesday.
Such entities will be subject to more lenient power consumption targets--10 percent, 5 percent or zero--depending on the type of service offered, according to government officials.
Public institutions and businesses in areas affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami will not have to meet power-use targets to minimize the impact of the scheme on people's livelihoods and local economic activity, the officials said.
Initially, the government intended to impose an across-the-board 15 percent cut from summer 2010 levels on large-lot power users. The revised policy would enable a select group of entities and certain areas to consume electricity in amounts comparable to last year's levels.
Among facilities to be exempted are medical institutions that provide emergency care, flood-control facilities and evacuation centers set up under the Disaster Relief Law, the officials said. Entities in the no-entry zone and evacuation areas around the F**ushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will also not be subject to the energy-saving regulations.
The restriction order is based on Article 27 of the Electricity Business Law. Large-lot users whose contracted supply is 500 kilowatts or higher will be obliged to meet the reduction target between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays between July 1 and Sept. 22 in TEPCO's jurisdiction, and between July 1 and Sept. 9 in areas serviced by Tohoku Electric. Violators could face fines of up to 1 million yen.
To be exempt from the power-cut target, entities must apply in advance.
Nursing care facilities and railways--except between noon and 3 p.m.--will be exempt and will be allowed to use the same amount of power as last summer. Airports and refrigerated warehouses will still be required to slash electricity use by 5 percent, and hotels and inns by 10 percent.
The government plans to allow semiconductor factories and businesses' information-processing facilities to apply for exemptions, as these facilities need constant levels of power, the officials said.
For households, the government will likely only recommend they cut power use by 15 percent compared to last summer.
The government has released suggestions on how electricity use can be reduced. For example, using an electric fan would use only half as much power as an air conditioner, and raising the temperature of the air conditioner by 2 C could would save 10 percent.
News Source: Daily Yomiuri
Tepco now says reactor seawater injection wasn't halted
Tokyo Electric Power Co. in an apparent flip-flop Thursday claimed it did not temporarily stop the injection of seawater into the damaged F**ushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 12, a day after the deadly earthquake and tsunami.
On Saturday, the utility announced that the injection of seawater into reactor unit 1 had been suspended for close to an hour.
The media reported that Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered Tepco to stop due to the risk of starting a chain reaction in an event known as a "recriticality," and suggested the halt may have caused the situation to deteriorate. Kan later completely denied the allegations, saying he nor the government gave such orders.
On Thursday, Tepco Vice President Sakae Muto said that the utility decided on its own to halt the seawater injection temporarily because it had not gotten the government's approval yet, but plant director Masao Yoshida decided it was necessary and ignored the utility's order.
"It has become known that the plant director decided that the water injection into the nuclear reactor was most important in preventing the accident from spreading, and in reality, the injection had been continued without a temporary suspension," Muto told a news conference.
Initially, Tepco said workers began pumping seawater into reactor 1 at 7:04 p.m. March 12 and stopped at 7:25 p.m., resuming the injection after 55 minutes.
The original announcement was made based on notes and statements of Tepco officials in Tokyo, and the utility only began the hearings with workers at the crippled plant Tuesday, Muto said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano expressed displeasure at a news conference later Thursday over Tepco's flip-flop.
Tepco "needs to grasp the facts accurately and report them to us — otherwise, we will struggle to deal with the situation and, moreover, the people will have doubts and distrust," Edano said. "This is not something that the utility needed to hide, but I think it needs to review how it has been collecting information and conveying it."
News Source: Japan Times