Blackout fears inspire battery demand

What happens when the power goes out during a sizzling summer without warning?

Expectations of power shortages during peak demand this summer have raised fears of sudden blackouts, causing people and businesses to consider purchasing industrial storage batteries to keep their home and office equipment up and running.

The devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and some thermal power plants has clipped electricity supplies for Tokyo and surrounding areas.

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Rolling blackouts scheduled for nine prefectures

Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Sunday that he has approved temporary power outages to prevent a massive blackout in the wake of Friday’s deadly earthquake that struck northern Japan.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the rolling blackouts, the first ever in Japan, will happen between 6:20 a.m. and 10 p.m. Monday. The prefectures affected are Tokyo, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Yamanashi and the eastern half of Shizuoka.

Kan appealed to the public for cooperation.

"If we continue (using electricity at the current level), there is the possibility of an all-out blackout in the area," Kan said. "The impact of a sudden, large-scale blackout would be immense and we must prevent it at all costs."

According to Tepco, the nine prefectures affected will each be divided into five areas. Each district will have the power cut off for about three hours at a time. Companies as well as households will be subject to the blackouts.

Kan acknowledged the blackouts would affect people in many ways and urged the public to be prepared.

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Tepco warns of blackouts, urges energy cut

Millions of households affected by Friday’s horrific temblor and tsunami are experiencing interruptions to water, gas and electricity supplies, and exactly when they will be restored is uncertain.

On Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned that blackouts could strike in many areas, not just in the zone of devastation, because damage to power-generation facilities has left electricity in short supply.

Tepco called on both companies and individuals to save power and sought help from other utilities in supplying electricity. In addition, it decided to cancel a plan to suspend power supplies for about three hours on a rotational and regional basis Sunday but said it might be reconsidered for Monday.

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