Japanese government asks for cut in power usage

As summer nears and strain on Japan's electricity transmission system grows, government officials have asked residents and businesses in several parts of the country to scale back their electricity usage, according to the BBC.

Japan's power generating capacity has been under added stress for much of the past year, after the country chose to systematically shut off its 50 nuclear power plants. While other generators have managed to absorb the added load thus far, expectations of rising demand in the summer have led to concerns about the stability of the electricity distribution network.

Though the reduction targets are voluntary, Japanese officials called on the heavily industrialized west of the country to reduce power consumption by 15 percent.

"The government will try hard to figure out how to implement the measures decided today so that the power savings will affect the economy and people's livelihood as little as possible," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, according to the BBC. "But I would like to repeat here our appeal to the nation to save power this summer."

At the same time, the utility sector is undergoing major changes as well, with the Japanese government now potentially holding 76 percent of Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco.

An analysis of Tepco is available at PennEnergy's Research area.

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