Residents and local authorities have been warned about blackouts and asked to save energy as temperatures drop
FILE PHOTO: View of Tokyo buildings and their reflects on the water in early evening in Tokyo, Japan. © David MAREUIL / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Japanese government issued an emergency warning for citizens, organizations, and the local authorities on Monday, warning of potential blackouts while calling on households and companies to save electricity starting Tuesday morning. The request regards Tokyo and eight other prefectures, and was issued for the first time since January last year.
The warning comes after a massive earthquake off the Tohoku region in the east of the country damaged several power plants. The unseasonably cold weather in Tokyo, with snow falling and temperatures dropping sharply to 39F (4C), exacerbated the energy problem, as increased demand for heating is expected.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) warned that 2 to 3 million households could lose power after 8pm local time if the current power usage rate remains unchanged.
“At this rate, we are coming closer to a state where we will have to conduct power outages similar to those that took place after the quake (last week),” Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Koichi Hagiuda said.
During a press conference, Hagiuda asked for an additional 5% of power savings every hour from 3 to 8pm, which is about 2 million kilowatts per hour.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno earlier urged citizens in eastern Japan affected by the power shortage to cooperate with the government and reduce power usage.
“We request your cooperation … such as by setting your thermostats at around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) and switching off any unnecessary lights,” Matsuno said during a press conference, adding that the issue is unlikely continue past Tuesday, as warmer weather is expected in the coming days.
In order to avoid blackouts, TEPCO planned to increase the power output at its undamaged thermal power plants and to ask for electricity from other power companies.
The magnitude 7.4 earthquake off the northeastern coast last Wednesday temporarily resulted in blackouts in about 2 million households, including hundreds of thousands in Tokyo. Operations are still halted at six thermal power plants affected by the tremors in the service areas of TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Co.