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Hokkaido thermal plant to fully operate in November or later

The Yomiuri Shimbun Full operations at the suspended Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant are expected to resume in November or later, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said Tuesday.

The ministry is calling on consumers to reduce power consumption by 20 percent at least through Friday.

Seko said at a press conference after a Cabinet meeting on the day, “The risk of actual rolling blackouts will decrease” because hydroelectric power plants that were suspended for regular inspections and other reasons will start operations this week or later in stages.

At the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant, the operation of its 600,000-kilowatt No. 2 unit and the 700,000-kilowatt No. 4 unit stopped immediately after the recent severe earthquake in southwestern Hokkaido, and the 350,000-kilowatt No. 1 unit shut down later. The No. 3 reactor was scrapped in 2005.

Seko said the No. 1 unit will restart at the end of September or later, followed by the No. 2 unit in mid-October or later and the No. 4 unit in November or later.

According to the ministry, damage was found in the pipework of the Nos. 1 and 2 units’ boilers, and the power-generating facilities of the No. 4 unit caught fire right after the earthquake. Thorough inspections will soon be conducted.

As for the power supply in Hokkaido, about 3.46 million kilowatts have been secured due to the resumption of the other thermal power plants in the prefecture as well as power interchange from Honshu, Seko said.

Companies’ production activities are expected to resume one after another. Therefore, “there is about 10 percent more demand than supply this week,” the minister said, indicating that the balance of supply and demand will continue to be precarious.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. has reported to the ministry that the Kyogoku hydroelectric power station’s 200,000-kilowatt No. 2 unit, which is under regular inspection, will be ready to start operations from Friday. Its 200,000-kilowatt No. 1 unit, which is under repair, will be ready from Sept. 21.

The power station is located in the town of Kyogoku in western Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Electric Power also will not implement rolling blackouts before Thursday and will make a decision Thursday based on the supply-demand conditions on Tuesday evening.

According to the ministry’s official Twitter account, the energy reduction in the 11 a.m. range on Tuesday was 23.8 percent.Speech

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