Power Short Japan to Restart Nuclear Reactors

Hoping to avert potentially devastating summer power shortages, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that his government would seek to restart two nuclear reactors, in what would be a first step toward ending an almost complete shutdown of the nation’s nuclear power industry.

Mr. Noda declared units No. 3 and No. 4 at the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant in western Japan to be safe based on the results of computer simulations designed to check the reactors’ tolerance of a large earthquake and tsunami like those last year that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The resulting meltdowns and explosions spewed radiation across a wide area of northeastern Japan and the Pacific Ocean in the worst nuclear accident since the one at Chernobyl a quarter century earlier.

Mr. Noda now faces the tricky task of convincing skeptical local leaders and voters in Fukui prefecture, where the Ohi plant is located, that it is safe to turn the reactors back on. Public concerns about safety after the Fukushima accident have prevented Japan from restarting any of its nuclear reactors as they have been gradually taken offline for legally mandated maintenance checks.

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Japan Gets Electricity Wake-Up Call

Masayuki Hattori, 46, lives with his extended family of seven in a house in the middle-class Itabashi neighborhood of Tokyo. Five years ago, he received a sales pitch from Tokyo Electric Power Co., which had teamed up with appliance makers, that he found too attractive to ignore: Switch from gas as the fuel of choice for his home’s heating and cooking and go “all electric.”

The package deal offered solar panels for home generation of electricity, grid connection for Tokyo Electric to provide backup power — and buy any surplus power generated by the panels — and a full range of electrical home appliances. It would provide all the energy that Mr. Hattori and his family would need and would also help the environment. It seemed like a win-win proposition.

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Starting the workday early to save power, Tokyo City Employees

Facing a summer power crunch, some Tokyo city government employees began working an hour earlier Monday to conserve energy amid shortages caused by damage to a tsunami-hit nuclear plant.City workers on the earliest shift will start at 7:30 a.m. and be allowed to leave at 4:15 p.m.By better exploiting the early daylight hours this summer, city officials hope to use less air conditioning and less office lighting at night."It should be a good thing, and it doesnt require any cost," Tokyos outspoken Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday. "I think all of Japan should shift to summer time hours."

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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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Tokyo faces further power crunch

When a boiling summer hits power-starved Tokyo, even Japan’s culture of self-restraint will hit its limit.

The March 11 tsunami that smashed into Japan’s northeast coast, killing as many as 25,000 people and knocking out nuclear power generation, has transformed this usually bright, bustling metropolis into a dark, humbler version of itself.

Running on eco-mode in the cool spring invites few complaints as citizens bundle up, leave work early and even go to bed around sundown. Escalators are still, trains run without air conditioning, and popular night time baseball games have been suspended. Many say any complaints are hollow compared to the deprivation and destruction further north.

"Shikata ga nai," a popular stoic phrase meaning "it can’t be helped," is frequently on people’s lips.

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Japan’s Western utilities to add equipment to channel power to Tokyo

The government is in talks with utilities to add equipment to channel more electricity from western Japan to ease shortages in the east, including Tokyo, after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami shut nuclear plants.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has started talks with companies including Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, to add transformers to help overcome differences in operating frequencies between the two regions, said Noriyuki Mita, a director for policy planning in METI’s electricity and gas division.

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