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Press Conference by Minister Seko (excerpted version)

*Note: This is a provisional translation for reference purpose only.

10:20 - 10:33 a.m.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Press Conference Room, METI

Opening Remarks

Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake

Yesterday, the 10th, was the first weekday after the electricity supply to the whole area of jurisdiction of the Hokkaido Electric Power Co. had been restored. The electricity demand during the electricity-saving period has been hovering at 10 to 16 percent and has decreased compared to before the earthquake, although it does fluctuate slightly by time of day. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the people and companies in Hokkaido for their cooperation in the electricity-saving efforts.

Regarding this week’s electricity demand-supply situation, there is still a gap of about 10 percent. Therefore efforts towards the goal of 20 percent electricity savings will be continuously crucial in order to realize a 10 percent reduction in demand.

Yesterday evening I received a report from Hokkaido Electric Power Co. on the prospects for future electricity supply including the Tomato-atsuma Thermal Power Station. According to the report, it is expected that Tomato-atsuma Thermal Power Station’s Unit 1 will be restarted from the end of September, Unit 2 from mid-October, and Unit 4 from November.

The government would also like to make a necessary backup so that the restart can be realized as early as possible.

I have originally mentioned that there will be at least one week or more until the restoration of Units 1, 2 and 4. The updated prospects resulted in being considerably behind schedule than initially expected. On the one hand, the Hokkaido Electric Power Co. also reported that they had some good prospects in regards to restarting two pumped-storage power plants: one is Kyogoku Pumped-storage Power Plant’s Unit 2, which produces 200 thousand kilowatts, currently under regular inspection, will be restarted on Friday the 14th; the other is Kyogoku Pumped-storage Power Plant’s Unit 1, which produces 200 thousand kilowatts. It is currently under repair but with the work schedule accelerated, it will be restarted on Friday the 21st.

If these two units of the Kyogoku Pumped-storage Power Plant can be restarted as scheduled, despite being on the premise that we should continuously ask everyone in Hokkaido for electricity-saving efforts, I believe that it will reduce the risk of implementing planned blackouts.

However, for the time being, considering that demand from large-scale industries will gradually increase due to future restoration together with the continual risk of aged thermal power stations shutting down, supply and demand of electricity is in a tightrope situation until these pumped-storage power plants restart.

At any rate, we would like to continue to achieve the goal of 20 percent electricity savings through the collective efforts of people and companies in Hokkaido, relevant organizations, electric power companies, and government, until Unit 2 of the Kyogoku Pumped-storage Power Plant becomes connected to the grid on Friday the 14th.

I myself am going to visit Hokkaido from today, to call for electricity-saving efforts to the local economic organizations, and exchange opinions with Governor Takahashi and Hokkaido Electric Power Co. I am also going to visit Seicomart Distribution Ccenter in Sapporo to observe the current situation of goods supply for convenience stores, where it has been reported that there are still empty shelves due to lack of stock.

Last updated:2018-11-21