The Japanese government decided Friday to request households and businesses in the Tokyo area to save electricity in July and August, with the supply-demand balance forecast to become tight in the area this summer.
The reserve power capacity ratio in the metropolitan area in July could drop to 3.1 percent, slightly above the lowest level for maintaining a stable supply, if a once-in-a-decade level of extreme heat grips the region served by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the industry ministry said.
Since electricity demand could swing about 3 percent from the anticipated level, it is necessary to secure at least a 3-percent reserve, according to the industry ministry.
The government issued a nationwide power saving request from July to September last year, but the latest request only targets the area served by TEPCO.
The reserve capacity rate is projected to improve to 4.8 percent in the Tokyo area in August while the rate in other regions is expected to stay above 5 percent in July and August, a ministry official said.
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a press conference that the government will ask for power saving efforts, such as turning off lights in unused rooms and hallways, while also calling on the public to avoid extreme measures hazardous to their health.
Last summer's request was the first issued since fiscal 2015, when all of the country's nuclear reactors were offline in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.
Japan's power generation has remained anemic as most nuclear reactors are still offline due to stricter safety regulations implemented after the disaster, with the recent shutdowns of aged thermal power plants making the country even more vulnerable to a power crunch under extreme weather or natural disasters.
In March last year, Japan faced the risk of large-scale power outages after a powerful earthquake in northeastern Japan halted several thermal plants during a cold snap.
A similar power-saving request was made for the past winter, with the government asking users to set their heating at a lower temperature and to turn off lights when not needed.