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No rolling power blackouts needed at this point in Hokkaido

Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant in the Hokkaido prefectural town of Atsuma is pictured from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft on Sept. 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- No rolling blackouts are needed in Hokkaido at this point, as power supplies have gradually been restored after a strong earthquake last week triggered a prefecture-wide blackout, Japan's industry minister said Friday.

The government has set a target of achieving a 20 percent cut in Hokkaido electricity use from its pre-quake weekday peak demand. But Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters that from next Tuesday, "we are not keeping the 20 percent target" for energy saving.

By Friday, the Kyogoku hydroelectric power station had resumed operations, and when fully operational, two units at the plant can generate an additional 400,000 kilowatts.

However, the Tomato-Atsuma thermal electric power plant, which provided roughly half of Hokkaido's electricity before the Sept. 6 earthquake, is not expected to be fully operational until November or later. It remains offline due to infrastructure damage and a small fire.

The earthquake caused the Tomato-Atsuma plant to shut down, triggering a series of emergency stops at other plants, precipitating a massive power outage that hit nearly 3 million homes at one point.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. President Akihiko Mayumi apologized for the massive power outage that struck Hokkaido, and called for continued cooperation of electricity users in saving energy.

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