Disruptions to electric power generation and delivery in Japan may be a continuing impediment to restoring manufacturing for some time. Accurate facts are hard to come by. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) lost anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of its generating capacity in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami; reports range on the exact number. The electric power shortage is affecting users far outside the disaster zone due to rolling blackout and other conservation efforts.
- TEPCO reported Wednesday that 174,800 households were still without electricity, but there are no similar figures available on commercial users. View update
- TEPCO’s service area is in the eastern part of Japan. While western Japan has unused electric capacity, it can’t be transferred because eastern Japan runs on a 50 hertz current while the western part of the country runs on 60 hertz. View update
- Large industrial users that generate their own power are selling excess supply to TEPCO to alleviate some of the shortage. View update 1 ; View update 2
- And, conservation efforts by household and commercial users are reducing overall consumption – some report by more than 20 percent. View update
Not much else is reported about the current power situation. TEPCO’s website reports dates upon which blackouts will occur, but it doesn’t identify specifically where they will be. And, company officials have resisted calls to exempt certain users, saying that the blackouts will affect all – residential and commercial – users equally. On top of this current uncertainty is the question of how long this state of affairs will continue. Few have ventured to guess. Certainly, it will take months, rather than weeks, to bring something like normalcy to the region’s power consumers and, thus, to its chemical and electronics manufacturers.