Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-023
The eventual restoration of Japan’s pre-March 11th electric power generating capacity - I don’t know, 1-, 2-, 5-years from now - may not mean the end of the current energy shortage Japan is experiencing. Do people think that once capacity is restored that they can flip switches and return to how it was? There might be no going back, and frugal energy saving might well become the new norm.
Currently, to save power, many businesses have reduced their operating hours and dimmed their lights; elevator and escalator services are scaled back; street lights deactivated; light bulbs and fluorescent tubes removed from their sockets as the government has ordered an across-the-board 15% electricity conservation. Perhaps many train locomotives and cars are sitting idle in depots and garages indefinitely because train companies trimmed their schedules. I worry about the humid summer time, when air conditioners will be left idle, or thermostats will be set higher and room temperatures left to rise.
When power eventually is restored we cannot just turn on all those appliances and bring those trains back online. First of all, workers will have to physically climb ladders to re-install light bulbs and tubes. Next, elevators, escalators and trains may be in poor condition from prolonged disuse. They will all have to be inspected and probably serviced somehow - lubricated, parts replaced and tested, cleaned, etc. Then before they are turned on there will be those awful, long and useless meetings that Japan is famous for to discuss it.
A host of impediments might make powering back up at some point in the future more difficult than powering down has been. Or, more difficult than many people yet realize, anyway.
Published on Sunday, May 29, 2011 as “Expect powering up to be harder.”