TOKYO -- Operations at the largest thermal power station in Hokkaido, hit by a magnitude-6.7 earthquake on Sept. 6, will not be resumed until late September at the earliest, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said on Sept. 11.
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Initially, the operator of the plant had said it would take at least one week to restart the power station but it will likely take much longer. Households as well as businesses in the northernmost prefecture will be required to save electric power for a prolonged period.
The damaged power station, Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant in the northernmost prefecture town of Atsuma, has an output of 1.65 million kilowatts. The total power demand in Hokkaido was 3.8 million kilowatts at its peak before the quake disaster.
The economy minister said he was informed by the utility on the night of Sept. 10 that the Tomato-Atsuma plant's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 units will likely be restarted at the end of September, in mid-October and in November, respectively, at the earliest. The power station's No. 3 reactor has been decommissioned.
Additionally, the utility also notified Seko that it will reactivate the No. 2 unit of the company's Kyogoku hydraulic power station in the prefectural town of Kyogoku, which is undergoing a regular inspection, and the No. 1 unit, which is being repaired, on Sept. 14 and 21, respectively. Each of the units has an output of 200,000 kilowatts.
The economy minister said reactivation of the hydraulic power station will reduce the possibility of rolling blackouts. "If the Kyogoku plant's No. 1 and 2 units are restarted as planned, it will decrease the risk of rolling blackouts on condition that consumers continue to save power," Seko said.
Households and businesses in Hokkaido continue to be required to try to reduce their power consumption by 20 percent until the Kyogoku plant's No. 2 unit is reactivated.
The Tomari nuclear power plant, which is Hokkaido's only atomic power station, was offline at the time of the quake.
(Japanese original by Kenji Wada, Business News Department)