* Says will take a while to finish repairs
* Asks users to save power during peak demand period
(Adds detail, comments)
TOKYO, June 16 (Reuters) - Japan’s Tohoku Electric Power Co (9506.T) does not expect its quake-hit Onagawa nuclear plant to be restarted this year, the company said on Friday.
It said it would take a while to complete repairs.
All three reactors at Onagawa plant with a total capacity of 2,174 megawatts were automatically shut when the March quake and tsunami devastated the area and have since been cold shut down.
Tohoku Electric is analysing the quake and aftershocks following an order from Japan’s atomic watchdog, as some of the shock waves were stronger than the company had estimated, Tohoku President Makoto Kaiwa said at a news conference.
It is not yet clear when the other unscathed 1,100 MW nuclear plant in Higashidori, further north from the Onagawa plant, would be restarted, Kaiwa said, adding an understanding from the local authorities was needed.
The Higashidori plant was in cold shutdown under regular maintenance at the time of the March 11 quake. Lack of engineers after the quake had delayed the planned maintenance work, resulting in a review of the work’s schedule, Kaiwa added.
Tohoku Electric has asked users to save electricity during the day’s peak demand period in summer by 15 percent, starting on July 1, to avoid unexpected blackouts. [ID:nL3E7GC1IU]
It fears its own supply of an estimated 12,300 MW and an extra supply from neighbouring Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) may fall short of demand, depending on the pace of economic recovery from the disaster in its service area.
Tohoku Electric is still in negotiation with Tokyo Electric on how much power to receive for the summer, Kaiwa said.
Among its non-nuclear power stations damaged by the quake, the worst is the 2,000 MW Haramachi coal-fired plant, Kaiwa said. [ID:nL3E7HH0KC]
When to restart the other two smaller, less-damaged fossil fuel plants and another 2,000 MW coal-fired plant in Soma run by a 50-50 joint venture between Tohoku Electric and Tokyo Electric is not yet clear, either, he said.
“We would be thankful if the Soma plant gets restarted by the time winter comes. We don’t know if we are able to restart Sendai and Shin-Sendai plants by the winter,” he said.
To avoid a possible shortfall in winter, Tohoku Electric unveiled a plan to install 40 sets of sodium-sulphur (NaS) battery at a fossil fuel plant in the northwest.
The NaS battery, manufactured by NGK Insulators Ltd (5333.T), is typically used at wind farms.
But Tohoku Electric’s plan to use a total 80 MW NaS battery from January at its 1,200 MW coal-fired Noshiro plant was aimed at meeting daytime demand with power generated during the night, Kaiwa said. (Reporting by Risa Maeda; editing by James Jukwey)