TEPCO begins power blackouts

TOKYO —

Tokyo Electric Power Co embarked on planned power outages in areas near Tokyo on Monday to avoid massive blackouts in its service area in the wake of Friday’s powerful earthquake, but region-wide energy-saving efforts allowed the company to delay the measure which was initially set to start in the early morning.

The unprecedented move, aimed at preventing eastern Japan from falling into a serious power shortage after the crippling of some nuclear power plants, is expected to last until at least the end of April, affecting train operations, economic activity and various other aspects of people’s everyday lives.

The first day of the move stirred confusion among the public, as TEPCO periodically changed the schedule of the outages and failed to issue correct information in advance to the media regarding which areas would be subject to temporary suspensions of electricity supply.

The outage even affected some evacuation centers in the coastal city of Asahi in Chiba Prefecture, where 11 people died as a result of the quake-triggered tsunami and other causes. When TEPCO announced that it would implement an outage from around 5 p.m., it did not include Chiba as an area that would be affected.

A TEPCO official apologized later that quake-hit areas were involved in the power suspension.

The first areas affected by the planned power outage were in Ibaraki, Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Chiba prefectures and the suspensions continued up to around 90 minutes. There are no other power outages planned for Monday.

The measure had been planned from 6:20 a.m. but was postponed thanks to the prospect of lower-than-expected demand, as the government urged the nation to save electricity following the crippling of TEPCO nuclear plants.

According to TEPCO, Tokyo and eight other prefectures have been divided into five groups, each of which could experience electricity outages for 3 to 6 hours on a rotating basis, according to the utility.

Earlier in the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano criticized TEPCO for changing the schedule multiple times and causing public confusion, saying information such as the areas subject to power outages was not properly conveyed even to the prime minister’s office.

‘‘I would like to instruct relevant entities to thoroughly and speedily release accurate information,’’ Edano told a news conference.

The planned power outages through April are expected to affect most of the 45 million people in TEPCO’s service area covering Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi, Yamanashi and part of Shizuoka prefectures.

The central Tokyo area, however, will be excluded for a while as central government offices and many company headquarters are located there.

In line with the plan to suspend electricity, rail operators reduced a large part of their services from the morning, affecting many commuters.

Among affected operators, East Japan Railway Co suspended services Monday on most of its lines, except for the Joetsu and Nagano shinkansen lines and the Yamanote and Saikyo lines, as well as parts of the Keihin Tohoku, Chuo and Joban lines on which it significantly reduced traffic.

Edano earlier warned that confusion is expected as the measure had to be taken at short notice and a very large number of people will be affected.

In an appeal to the nation to reduce electricity use, Edano said, ‘‘Maximum efforts by the nation are indispensable, such as avoiding going out unless it is necessary or urgent.’‘

Status of train services

Tokyo Metro
Ginza Line: Transportation delayed due to 50% train reduction.
Marunouchi Line: Transportation delayed due to 40% train reduction.
Hibiya Line: Transportation delayed due to 10% train reduction. Direct operations to Tobu Isezaki Line and Tokyu Toyoko Line have been suspended.
Tozai Line: Transportation delayed due to 30% train reduction. Direct operations to Tokyo Rapid Railway and local trains on the JR Chuo and Sobu Lines have been suspended.
Chiyoda Line: Transportation delayed due to 30% train reduction. Direct operations to JR Joban Line (local trains) and Odakyu Line suspended.
Yurakucho Line: Transportation delayed due to 50% train reduction. Direct operations to Tobu Tojo Line and Seibu Ikebukuro Line are suspended.
Hanzomon Line: Transportation delayed due to 20% train reduction. Direct operations to Tobu Isezaki Line have been suspended.
Namboku Line: Transportation delayed due to 40% train reduction.
Fukutoshin Line: Transportation delayed due to 50% train reduction.

JR Lines
Chuo Rapid Line: Transportation available between Tokyo - Tachikawa stations only.
Keihin-Tohoku Line: Transportation available between Kamata - Akabane stations only.
Joban Rapid Line: Transportation available between Ueno-Matsudo stations only.
Joban Local Line: Transportation available between Ayase – Matsudo stations only.
Saikyo Line: Transportation available between Osaki – Omiya Stations only.

Private Lines
Odakyu Line: Transportation available on local trains between Kyodo and Shinjuku stations only.
Keio Line: Transportation delayed due to 50% train reduction. All operations for the Chofu – Keio Hachioji, Takaosanguchi, and Chofu-Hashimoto area will be suspended between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Inokashira Line: Transportation delayed due to 50% train reduction. 

Compiled from news reports

  • 0

    wacjapan

    The transport ministry asked the public to refrain from commuting to work and school as well as going outside as the planned rationing of power is expected to affect transport systems.

    Refrain from going outside??? WTF? What does just going outside have to do with using electricity? I can't go for a jog?

  • 0

    thepro

    Why the hell is the power frequency different in east and west Japan? unbelievable.

  • 0

    himehentai

    why cant they take power from somewhere else? Like Kansai or Kyushu?

  • 0

    Sarge

    I'd be glad to refrain from commuting to work, heck, I'd much rather be helping those poor people in the tsunami zone, but if I don't commute to work, I'll lose the job even faster than originally scheduled, lol..

  • 0

    cloa513

    Why isn't every person, company, public service just asked to reduce their power usage rather than having blackouts- there is all sorts of measures easy to do- cut out home heating (unless sick) (use clothes and blankets), reduce office heating set the thermostat lower (use clothes), minimise transport and stage the travel home and back, reduce the useless corporate socialising.

    However keep the trains running (even if some have to be slower), commodore coaches to replace trains if need be.

    More idiotic responses from the Kan government who can't handle any disaster.

  • 0

    sakurala

    Wacjapan: I think the traffic lights and such might also be affected by the power outage so they are concerned with pedestrian vs vehicular traffic.

  • 0

    Apsara

    why cant they take power from somewhere else? Like Kansai or Kyushu?

    Himehentai, this is explained in the article- have another look.

  • 0

    namabiru4me

    have pachinko parlors close, conbinis to reduce lighting and electric signs, tell companies and people to turn off lights and electric heaters...

  • 0

    Jkanda

    Sarge, of all people you are getting very anxious now. Ask your boss if you can do work from home. And about not finding bread etc, be creative. Make all sorts of flat breads in fry pan , with yeast, baking powder, etc.

  • 0

    thepro

    All the supermarkets and combinis are out of water where i live. I don't know how trucks are going to deliver things if people aren't going to work and traffic lights aren't working...

  • 0

    Goals0

    If you want to know:

    In Japan, the western part of the country (Kyoto and west) uses 60 Hz and the eastern part (Tokyo and east) uses 50 Hz. This originates in the first purchases of generators from AEG in 1895, installed for Tokyo, and General Electric in 1896, installed in Osaka. The boundary between the two regions contains four back-to-back HVDC substations which convert the frequency; these are Shin Shinano, Sakuma Dam, Minami-Fukumitsu, and the Higashi-Shimizu Frequency Converter.

  • 0

    whiskeysour

    namabiru4me - your absolutely right !!!! If they shut down all pachinko parlors, reduce lighting, and use natural lighting. Everything would be alot better.

  • 0

    zaichikNZ

    Is anyone able to confirm whether Narita Express is still running?

  • 0

    GW

    wac its japanese english you need to learn it to better understand, what they mean by outside is simply DO NOT do any unnecessary traveling, common sense really.

    At this point everyone shud ALREADY be cutting their electrcity usage as a matter of course, again common sense.

    And come on folks for those of use who have come thru this mostly intact suck it up! A few rotating blackouts is the bloody least we shud do to help other in greater need.

    Again some of you need not be so selfish, suck it up! We are in for a hell of a year!

  • 0

    NambanOnigiri

    Your home hasnt been oblitarated, your loved ones havent been taken away, all they are asking for is a bit of reason. So what if you have to wait an extra 15 mins to get a train. Time to be adults people. If people use electicity responsibly then there will hopefully be no power shortages and the infrastructure in affected areas can work, albeit a little slower than before.

  • 0

    whiskeysour

    Total damages will cost japan zillions upon zillions of yen !!!!

    scary !!!!

  • 0

    JeffLee

    If people's houses were properly insulated, they would be using a lot less energy, particularly up north.

  • 0

    METinTokyo

    One of the biggest users of electricity here are the aluminum smelters, an hour of what they use could power all the pachinko parlors in Japan for a week. I know that many people here on JT are against this type of distraction, however to many people in Japan it is as much a distraction as TV so why deprive this type of escapism during this time of anxiety. Personally I have no interest in pachinko, but do know quite a few Japanese people and a few non Japanese who play regularly after work. Perhaps better than going to the pub every night and getting half pissed.

  • 0

    Jkanda

    METinTokyo, pachinko parlors are definitely much better distraction than others. I have also begun to look at the positive side of them. I know a few nice people working in big companies going to them. It seems much more innocent than the many deceitful, self destroying distractions.

  • 0

    bentheredonthat

    japan should just announce a few days of mourning and have business close. it's madness going back to work today.

  • 0

    my2sense

    Since all the networks rerun everything every 30 minutes (now with talentos making sad faces). Try keeping your TVs off Japan and put them on a few times a day/night for updates.

  • 0

    taj

    Narita Express isn't listed on the JR East website as one of the lines running, so I wouldn't count on it. Hopefully the limosine busses are running at full capacity.

    Are you coming or going, Zaichick?

  • 0

    zaichikNZ

    Thanks, Taj - I'd reached that conclusion earlier this morning, and sent an update to my boss to that effect, but I wanted to check that I hadn't got the wrong end of the stick. I'm not travelling, but I work for an assistance company and wanted to forewarn the team on shift today that they're likely to get calls from travellers who are worried about missing flights due to the transport chaos.

  • 0

    johnmasterof

    Well here I go, off to work... Crap. This whole thing is interesting to say the least. However I do not know of any other country better prepared for something like this than Japan.

  • 0

    wanderlust

    60Hz in Western Japan, 50Hz in Eastern Japan. Maybe this will provide an impetus to standardise the place...

  • 0

    Bogart

    TEPCO officials, however, said they plan to exclude from the areas subject to the measure wards in the central Tokyo area where the country’s central government offices and companies’ headquarters exist—namely Chuo, Chiyoda and Minato wards.

    Glad I live and work in Minato-ku.

  • 0

    ronaldk

    I'm scared to take the subway now. Tried to get on the Hibiya Line today but it was unmercilessly jam packed. Imagine if there is another earthquake in that kind of crushing train car under the city!

  • 0

    tokyochris

    can't believe group 1 and group 2 are so badly affected in Tokyo... the other 3 groups have a relatively easy time of things!

  • 0

    SilverHammer

    Rolling blackouts is a poor approach to rationing. It is going to cost a lot of money for Japan to rebuild after this disaster. Shutting down businesses for several hours a the day will be a big hit to the economy.

    It would seem to me like it would be better to turn off non-essential things like street lights (I have heard that the just the vending machines consume as much power as a small city). Tell businesses to shut off as many lights and other systems as possible. Set the heating systems to a very low setting. Tell home owners to shut off everything during business hours. I would think that the power consumption could be reduced enough to be able to keep electricity flowing to the commercial users. This is a national emergency for Japan and I expect that they would get a very high level of compliance if they just asked people to dramatically cut consumption for a few months.

  • 0

    bicultural

    If people's houses were properly insulated, they would be using a lot less energy, particularly up north.

    jeff, many people "up north" don't have gas, water, or electricity right now.

  • 0

    borscht

    Shutting down businesses for several hours a the day will be a big hit to the economy.

    It looks like they're trying to keep businesses (in central Tokyo, at least) operating by making sure they have the power they need.

    If Tepco asks for voluntary reduction of electrical use, they can't be sure they will have the power. Some homeowners will, some won't; some businesses will, some won't (reduce power use) - by having rolling brownouts, Tepco will be sure the central businesses have the power they need.

    This may reduce the impact on the economy.

  • 0

    HermioneGranger

    I would much rather be able to boil water in my home than Shibuya 109 open it's doors to sell clothes.

  • 0

    RobertNTerry

    If your rolling blackouts are anything like the rolling blackouts we have had over here, they do not affect the businesses as much. The old saying is "the show must go on". You are going to need all the working economy that that can get in the next year. However, I suspect that there are businesses that are really more of a luxury than you guys can afford right now. Here in the US we look at bars, casinos, and liquor stores during hard times.

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    Awesome! So while they are waiting to start their rolling blackouts how about they get someone to translate their schedule into English for the million or so Tokyo residents that don't read kanji!

  • 0

    Ranger_Miffy

    I have seen businesses with reduced lighting here in Tokyo. The streets are much less jammed, there is room to walk around in the B1 food areas at noon, no less. People are looking pretty serious. And, I agree about the Aluminum smelters, a nasty business that, but they aren't going to stop. Pachinko parlors could cut the neon. It WOULD be a nice recreation if they banned smoking totally. Otherwise, it's just a cancer ward in the making and no thanks. Not healthy at all, sad to say. Looks fun from the outside.

  • 0

    sourpuss

    Disillusioned, people stuck at home could use the time to do their own kanji studying.

    But I guess it's easier to just criticize the powers that be, instead of actually empowering oneself.

  • 0

    BoratLikeBarry

    Disillusioned - If these people who "don't read kanji" do not have the sense to at least remember their own address. I'm sure they will be forced to do so now.

  • 0

    taj

    Silverhammer. we ARE doing all those things you listed. (dark offices. no heat, toilet seats all unplugged, etc. The buidling owners (Sumitomo Fudosan) have implemented loads of it. Each tenent in every bulding can then follow on. As for homes, we had loud-speaker announcements starting yesterday asking us to limit to absolutely essential power consumption.

    A number of companies (Toyota, etc.) announced over the weekend that they'd keep manufacturing plants closed down.

    All in all, these modest efforts are hopefully adding up.

  • 0

    taj

    Disillusioned: "the million or so Tokyo residents that don't read kanji!"

    Sorry, but I call hyperbole. newbies + lazy long-termers from non-kanji countries< 1million. Not even close.

  • 0

    Harry_Gatto

    Take your kanji argument somewhere else, it's not relevant here.

  • 0

    roomtemperature

    So Disillusioned, you still don't read kanji? Sorry mate, that's YOUR problem.

  • 0

    Beer99

    @Goals0 I think that its is still strange that Japan would adopt 2 different power sources.....typical Japanese thinking i guess. In my opinion its sad because now the West can not help the East by supplying power.

  • 0

    cloa513

    What about closing most lifts (only people with real disabilities can use or be fined) and all escalators (you can walk down them).

  • 0

    Zenny11

    In my area most stores had dimmed lights, many escalators were off, etc.

    Looks like no blackout today for us.

  • 0

    koriyamaboy

    What is this talk about kanji. Turn out some lights and your pc! I am up here in Koriyama in Fukushima and a lot of businesses that are closed still have their sign and outsided lights on. If everyone would do their part, these blackouts would not be necessary.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    wacjapan: "Refrain from going outside??? WTF? What does just going outside have to do with using electricity? I can't go for a jog?"

    My guess it is was probably not the best translation, and the actual request/suggesting is that people watch what they do in terms of going out. I mean, it would be foolish to suggest you stay in and suck up power in that respect, so this probably means going out and doing the same.

    What can we do to help power-wise in Kansai?

  • 0

    Sarge

    I wish I could buy just 2 spare batteries for my 100 yen flashlight, but the panicked hoarders bought every last one in my area.

  • 0

    Carcharodon

    read this on bbc

    Chris Hutchinson in Ogikubo, Tokyo, writes: "Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, but the power outages are going to be a problem. My feeling is that TEPCO have really screwed it up - my area is in 'Group 1' which will have outages twice a day and we have both of the most inconvenient times (6am-10am and 5pm-8.30pm) which is when I would be taking showers, cooking or trying to relax. Other areas have it much easier - especially those in group 4 (which, perhaps no surprise, contains many very wealthy areas!) who only have a 2.5hr window during office hours in the early afternoon. The British Embassy has been great so far and provided a lot of information when requested, I would definitely advise any British people to register at duddubdubdotlocatedotfcodotgovodtuk/LocatePortal if they haven't already done so. The Japanese authorities have been pretty much useless and unwilling (or unable?) to provide any details regarding specific questions about the earthquake and nuclear situations. I am not planning to leave Japan, but I am ready to do so if instructed to - I have essential things packed and ready to go in the event of the situation deteriorating."

    curious - Rich people appear to get off lightly with the timing of the powercuts...

  • 0

    Jkanda

    Chris Hutchison should first check the information before he starts behaving like a kindergarten kid. No area gets two outages. He needs to first check carefully, his area falls into which time period in Group 1. Oh goodness, how irresponsible can you be? The group one has two outages for the different areas!

    Thanks Carchardon for spotting such rumor mongers. And if BBC wants they can check it for themselves.

  • 0

    proxy

    I have a question, perhaps the JT collective wisdom knows the answer.

    Why does East Japan use 50 hertz and west Japan 60 hertz?

    It is probably the lowest time of the year for electricity consumption in Kyushu but there are a limited number of frequency converter stations so Kyuden cannot use its ample capacity to supply Tokyo.

  • 0

    KnowBetter

    to answer 'proxy's' question:

    "In Japan, the western part of the country (Kyoto and west) uses 60 Hz and the eastern part (Tokyo and east) uses 50 Hz. This originates in the first purchases of generators from AEG in 1895, installed for Tokyo, and General Electric in 1896, installed in Osaka. The boundary between the two regions contains four back-to-back HVDC substations which convert the frequency; these are Shin Shinano, Sakuma Dam, Minami-Fukumitsu, and the Higashi-Shimizu Frequency Converter."

    "The German company AEG (descended from a company founded by Edison in Germany) built the first German generating facility to run at 50 Hz. At the time, AEG had a virtual monopoly and their standard spread to the rest of Europe."

    infomation from "wikipedia"

    I hope that helps answer your question.

  • 0

    shirokuma2011

    The latest list from TEPCO is up at their site (look at the top for the link to the schedule PDF, updated at midnight on 3/15/11) and is quite altered from previous lists, both in the composition of the five groups, and in the times scheduled for outages. No group is now scheduled for two outage periods (though different areas in the same region may be in different groups).

    And my neighborhood in Taito-ku has been taken off the list altogether...

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