WAKAYAMA — A company partially financed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is planning to build a wind power station in the Wakayama Prefecture town of Hidaka, which has abandoned plans to host a nuclear power plant, it has been learned.
The town is likely to accept the wind power project, with Mayor Yoshio Naka earlier having declared: “The age of nuclear power stations is over.”
If the company receives local approval, it will apply to the Wakayama Prefectural Government and other relevant bodies to begin developing the town’s Oura district, aiming to launch commercial operation of the power station in 2014. In addition, as a countermeasure against a tsunami that experts predict is highly likely to occur soon in the earthquake-prone Tokai, Tonankai, or Nankai regions, the company will use soil left over from construction to prepare land for temporary housing, and the town will also build a heliport in the area.
The project is being promoted by Tokyo-based Eurus Energy Holdings Corp., the biggest wind farm company in Japan, which is financed by TEPCO and Toyota Tsusho Corp. It plans to build seven wind turbines with a generating capacity of 2,000-2,300 kilowatts in an elevated mountain area, and sell the electricity it produces to Kansai Electric Power Co. The power station will be able to supply electricity for 8,500 to 10,000 homes.
In 1967, the mayor of Hidaka unveiled proposals for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Ahead of the construction work, Kansai Electric Power Co. in 1988 presented the local fisheries cooperative with about 700 million yen. However, divisions over the plans erupted among relatives in the cooperative, and the conflict even spread to wedding ceremonies, funerals, and boat-launching ceremonies. In the 1990s, a mayor opposed to the project was elected, and Naka, who continued that line from 2002, approached Kansai Electric Power Co. soon after assuming office seeking a halt to the project.
In 2005 the government lifted designation of the area as an important site for the development of nuclear power, and the Oura district and the southern Ao district are currently designated as prefectural nature parks.
It is predicted that a powerful Tokai, Tonankai or Nankai region earthquake could bring a tsunami more than 4 meters in height into the area in 30 minutes. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, the town was pressured to revise its disaster prevention plans to envisage a magnitude 9-level earthquake, and in line with the establishment of a wind power station, disaster prevention measures are being promoted in the town. Using soil left over from the construction of wind turbines, an area of land measuring about 5,000 square meters will be prepared to make room for a shelter and temporary housing for about 80 households. To secure water in the event of an earthquake, valves allowing the distribution of water to be halted will be placed on water tanks in the district, and new tanks to supply water to temporary housing units will be set up.