TOKYO Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Friday it plans to restart this summer thermal power plants that have been shut since the devastating earthquake in March, in a bid to avoid power shortages during the peak season for demand.
The company said it plans to restart the 600 megawatt No.2 unit and 1,000 megawatt No.4 unit, both oil-fired, at its Hirono thermal plant, about 20 km (12 miles) south of its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, and a 1,000 MW coal-fired unit at Hitachinaka in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.
The firm also said Tokyo would not be included in any possible rolling blackouts.
Tokyo Electric (Tepco) said it will be able to supply 55,200 megawatts of power by the end of July. Earlier, the utility said it estimated power supply capacity at the end of August to be 56,200 MW.
The utility sees summer peak power demand at 55,000 MW.
Tokyo Electric said it will be able to run all its thermal power plants by the end of August, except for 350 MW of capacity at its Yokosuka thermal plant.
The utility said it has procured sufficient oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to use by the summer for increased generation at its thermal power plants.
Earlier on Friday, the Japanese government approved a plan to help compensate victims of Tokyo Electric's crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture, which was damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami and is still leaking radiation.
"This framework is not meant for Tepco's bailout. We made this framework so that compensation would be implemented swiftly for those who saw damages . and so that Tepco can supply electricity in a stable way," Trade minister Banri Kaieda told reporters on Friday.
The government also approved a target to cut peak electricity consumption in the summer by 15 percent in the areas serviced by Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric given the latest power supply plans provided by the two utilities.
To contribute to the reduction in electricity consumption in eastern Japan, Japanese car and parts makers are considering plans to set Thursdays and Fridays as holidays instead of the weekend, when power demand is lower, during the hottest months from July to September.
With the planned shutdown of Chubu Electric Power's nuclear power plant in central Japan joining the equation, the auto and auto parts industry associations are discussing whether the plan should be expanded nationwide, a spokeswoman at the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) said.
A final decision may be announced by May 19, she added.
(Reporting by Risa Maeda, Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Chris Gallagher)