-- The Asahi Shimbun, July 22
EDITORIAL: Western Japan needs to save power this summer

On July 20, the government hastily requested people and businesses in jurisdictions served by Kansai, Hokuriku, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu electric power companies to save electricity this summer.

Although the request is not a binding directive to limit the use of electricity as is the case with areas serviced by Tokyo and Tohoku electric power companies, this summer, Japan is facing a crisis that requires the entire nation to do everything it can to save electricity.

There are rising concerns that western Japan may also face a power shortage.

This is because the outlook for the supply of electricity to meet demand suddenly became tight.
At a time when prospects for the restart of nuclear power plants undergoing routine inspections remain dim, a reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s nuclear power plant and a thermal power plant of Chugoku Electric Power Co. came to a halt because of certain difficulties.

In western Japan, no major power plants were damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Since many areas in western Japan share the same frequency, it is easier for electric utilities to accommodate each other with surplus electricity.

Still, if demand for electricity reaches the same level as last year, when demand peaks, the five companies as a whole are expected to face a power shortage, according to the government.

The situation is particularly serious in the region covered by Kansai Electric, which relies on nuclear power plants for about 50 percent of its total power generation.

It is clear that by counting on the restart of nuclear power plants, both the government and the power companies failed to come up with an effective measure to deal with a possible electricity shortage.

When it comes to a lack of preparations to create a system to save energy, it can be said that western Japan is in a tighter bind than eastern Japan.

But there is a limit to what people and businesses can do at this juncture.

For now, users have no choice but to use every conceivable means to save as much electricity as possible.

The important thing is to avoid concentration of electricity use during peak-use daytime periods.

For that, users need to talk the matter over in local communities, the workplace and at home to come up with workable ideas.

Western Japan is far from the earthquake-stricken areas.

Foreseeing a shortage of electricity in eastern Japan, some companies even moved their production centers and office functions to western Japan.

All the more because residents in western Japan were not damaged from the March 11 disaster, they must be wondering why they must conserve.

Still, they must come to face to face with reality that saving electricity is indispensable.

Above all, for effective energy saving, it is important that the government and electric utilities properly release information on supply capabilities and demands.

In particular, in the Kansai region where a shortage is most feared, concerned parties are setting different targets for saving electricity.
The government calls for "10 percent or more," Kansai Electric "15 percent" and the union of Kansai governments comprising local governments "5 to 10 percent."

Under such circumstances, it is difficult for residents to know how much electricity is in short supply and how much heat they have to endure.

As it is, public distrust is mounting against the government for repeatedly changing policies without proper planning for electricity usage and utilities which cannot part with a dishonest corporate culture as symbolized in the case of Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s fake e-mail messages that were sent to support nuclear power to meet the company's objective.

More substantial numbers and easy-to-understand explanations are needed for people and businesses to ride out the feared power shortage this summer.

These are the minimum requirements.

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