By Vittorio Hernandez

A survey of 10 regional power utility firms in Japan released on Monday said that the companies are expecting electricity shortages this summer because of the nuclear crisis that hit the country caused by the March 11 magnitude 9 earthquake.

Aside from Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant which was damaged extensively, other utilities had difficulty restarting their reactors which were also shuttered for regular maintenance checks.

Japanese utility firms need a standard margin of 8 percent to ensure residents of uninterrupted power supply, but the survey said the utilities are expecting a margin of only 6.2 percent in summer. They expect to generate a total of 172.94 million kilowatts in summer, while projected demand is expected to hit 162.8 million kw.

Because of the quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, the Japanese government asked the Chubu Electric Power to close its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture until safety measures are installed. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also suspended 30 of 54 reactors across the country for safety checks.

On Monday, the Japanese cabinet approved a plan to establish a fund to help Tokyo Electric compensate victims of the Fukushima Daiichi partial meltdown. The utility firm sought the national government's assistance in compensating residents and businesses affected by the nuclear accident after it reported a loss of $150 billion (JPY 12 trillion) and face the possibility of paying more than $100 billion (JPY 8 trillion) in compensation.

The plan, however, would require the approval by the Japanese Diet.


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World - Japan Power Firms Expect Summer Shortages | Global Viewpoint