Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) resumed rationing electricity Tuesday in areas in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo to avoid massive blackouts a day after launching the program amid chaos on the railway network.
The rationing began in parts of Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures from around 7 a.m. The power outages in those areas are to last for a few hours.
While region-wide energy-saving efforts allowed the company to delay the launch of the program until Monday evening, demand for electricity could rebound on the second day, officials said, raising the possibility it will enforce the area-by-area scheduled blackouts almost fully through 10 p.m.
But the power company said it will supply a certain amount of electricity to railway operators even during outages.
The steps are being taken after Friday’s mega quake crippled two of the power firms’ key nuclear power plants.
The planned power outages through April are expected to affect most of the 45 million people in TEPCO’s service area covering Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi, Yamanashi and part of Shizuoka prefectures.
The area has been divided into five groups, each of which could experience electricity outages for 3 to 6 hours on a rotating basis. The central Tokyo area, however, is being excluded for a while as central government offices and many company headquarters are located there.
While the areas affected Monday involved only 113,000 households in some parts of Chiba, Ibaraki, Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures with suspensions continuing for up to around 90 minutes, the railway network was almost paralyzed as train services were suspended on most lines.
TEPCO has a total of three nuclear power stations in Fukushima and Niigata prefectures. Its two plants in Fukushima have been shut down since the magnitude 9.0 quake and a crisis is escalating at one of them with the cores of some reactors apparently partially melting with the loss of cooling functions.
Photo credit: 妖精書士 / Wikimedia
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