Japan restarting mothballed hydro

TOKYO, JAPAN - To meet electric power demands, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport MLIT has announced that it will reopen five closed hydropower plants.

One of the stations belongs to East Japan Railway Company JR East and is located along the Shinano River in Niigata prefecture. The remaining four, Shiobara, Shinanogawa, Kiyotsugawa-Yuzawa and Uonogawa-Ishiuchi, belong to Tokyo Electric Power Company Incorporated TEPCO.

The Shiobara plant was shut down for unlicensed operation in 2007. However after the earthquake, all accrued punishment was lifted, and TEPCO was given special permission by MLIT to bring the power station back into operation. TEPCO and JR East were given permission to reduce river capacity in order to generate power for electrical demand.

The five hydropower stations are expected to bring 360 megawatts of power online and will be able to provide electricity for at least 120,000 homes throughout TEPCO's service area.

TEPCO announced that it would be unable to sufficiently provide electricity to its service area due to a compromised electrical infrastructure and the loss of several key power stations, including Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and Fukushima Daini nuclear power station. TEPCO's service area includes Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, as well as the Kanto region of Japan, which is comprised of Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gunma, Tochigi, Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures.

As a result of insufficient electrical capacity, the company broke its service area into five groups that are currently undergoing scheduled power outages in specified time blocks. TEPCO typically provides for a daily 40-gigawatt GW power demand from these areas, but announced that it would only be able to provide approximately 20 GW and called on residents, businesses, and industries alike to cooperate in conserving power to aid in power outages.


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