As Reactor 6 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant goes into the scheduled maintenance, all 17 nuclear reactors operated by TEPCO will be offline as of March 26, 2012.
By late April, all of Japan's 54 commercial reactors will go offline, unless Kansai Electric manages to obtain the permission to restart its Ooi Nuclear Power Plant.
Since last fall, there has been no rolling blackout, no rationing of electricity anywhere in Japan. Even the government officials have admitted that the rolling blackouts and rationing right after the March 11 quake/tsunami/nuke accident were "an experiment" and a lesson to teach the Japanese the importance of nuclear power.
Japan's need for electricity in winter is no less than in summer these days, as most households and businesses have come to rely on electricity for heating after a decade of campaigns by the utility companies pushing for "All-Electric Home". In retrospect, that push was for the push for more nuclear power plants.
From Market Watch (2/9/2012):
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday it will suspend operations of the No. 6 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture on March 26 for a periodic check, a plan that will take all of its 17 reactors out of service, Kyodo News reported.
The No. 6 reactor with a power output of 1.356 million kilowatts is the last to be suspended out of the plant's seven reactors.
It will be the first time all 17 units have been halted since the April 15-May 6 period of 2002, when they were suspended after a public outcry over revelations that TEPCO had hidden problems at its nuclear plants.
Out of the seven at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 as well as the No. 7 reactors have been suspended as a result of periodic checkups and a 2007 earthquake that badly damaged the prefecture and its vicinity.
On Jan. 25, TEPCO suspended the No. 5 reactor at the plant for a periodic check, leaving the No. 6 reactor the only one in service both at the plant and throughout the utility's service area.
TEPCO says it wants to restart the operations of the seven reactors in stages, starting in fiscal 2013 or later.
But Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said the factors that triggered the 2011 crisis at the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi plant must be examined and identified before the seven are allowed to restart operations. The nearby Fukushima Daini plant also run by TEPCO has four reactors.
Among Japan's 54 commercial reactors, only two will be in operation -- the No. 3 reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido and the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. Both will go offline for regular checkups by late April.