Japan’s Chubu Electric Power will receive a 100 billion yen government loan as it looks to fund alternative power sources after it had to suspend its Hamaoka nuclear plant following the crisis at Fukushima.
The low-interest $1.24 billion crisis response loan will be provided later this month through the Development Bank of Japan, government minister Banri Kaieda told a news conference on Friday.
Chubu Electric faces costs for shifting to other sources of power generation after Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the suspension of the Hamaoka nuclear plant due to its location in a high-risk earthquake zone southwest of Tokyo.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s northeast coastline, leaving 23,000 people dead or missing and crippling cooling systems at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering reactor meltdowns.
More than three months on and tens of thousands of people remain evacuated from homes, farms and businesses in a 20-kilometre (12-mile) zone around the radiation-spewing plant, with evacuation pockets also further afield.
Utilities not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami that battered the Fukushima Daiichi plant have not restarted reactors that were undergoing maintenance at the time, due to objections from local governments.
As a result, fewer than 20 of Japan’s 54 reactors now are operating, raising the potential for power shortages across wider areas of the nation.
An effort to cut electricity usage by 15 percent in Tokyo and the surrounding region as well as the Tohoku region will begin on July 1 in a bid to avoid blackouts during the peak summer months.
Kansai Electric Power Co, which is based in western Japan, has said it will also ask businesses and households to voluntarily reduce their power usage this summer by 15 percent.
Japan, the world’s number three economy, endures 20 percent of all major earthquakes and generates about 30 percent of its power from nuclear plants.