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Public in the dark about soon-to-be-operated small-scale coal-fired power plant in Sendai

Already one year has passed since an article in the Nikkei Newspaper (September 26th, 2014) talked about a plan for a new coal-fired power plant in Sendai. The article mentioned that “Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) is going to build a power plant in Sendai, first time outside of Kansai area, to provide electricity to the Tokyo metropolitan area, and will start operations in autumn 2017.” That was first time the public found out about the project, which is set to be located in near Sendai port.

The article said:

Itochu Enex Co., Ltd. is planning to build a coal-fired power plant at Sendai port. Construction will start in autumn 2015. In order to build this power plant, Kanden Energy Solution Co. (KENES) in Osaka, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO), and associated with the company Itochu Enex, established a specific purpose company (SPC) with a fifty-fifty joint venture named “Sendai Power Station.”
The total capacity of the plant is 112MW. Operating costs will be around 30 billion yen. The company plans to start operations in autumn 2017. KEPCO plans to sell electricity to offices and homes in eastern Japan including the Tokyo metropolitan area, while Itochu Enex plans to sell to businesses.

In autumn 2015, no official announcement had been made. Since the total capacity of this plant was set to be 112MW, a governmental EIA is not required. Prefectural or city assessments are also not required in case of Miyagi Prefecture and Sendai City, thus residents have no access to information to the project.

Kiko Network requested that a public meeting for residents be held to explain the project, however the operator replied that they had no intention to hold such a meeting.
Why do KEPCO and Itochu come to the Tohoku area to generate electricity to supply to the Tokyo area? Why do they choose such au unsustainable coal-fired power plant at this point in time? Wouldn’t such a power plant have a negative impact on the environment and public health? Many questions and concerns have been raised.  There are also no information about the impact on climate change.

Kiko Network and local citizen networks working on the promotion of renewable energy had sent the following letter to request a meeting with representatives from KENES, Itochu Enex and Sendai Power Station..

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Request for a public meeting regarding the new coal-fired power plant at Sendai port

In the letter, it was pointed that we cannot get any information other than from media reports since it is a small-scale power plant without an EIA and the project should not be built or operated without local residents know about the power plant, .

It also mentioned about concerns around impacts caused by air pollutants and CO2 emissions, and thus requested to hold a public meeting in Sendai for the residents to explains about the projects before construction starts.

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However, we did not receive any reply from any of the three companies, so we made telephone inquiries. Their responses were unfavorable. All three companies (Kanden Energy Solutions, Itochu Enex, and Sendai Power Station) replied that the “administrative process was done properly and there’s no plan to hold a public meeting”. Concerning our question as to whether construction will really start in October or not, they responded that they “cannot make any comments on any individual project”. We discovered that these operators only follow the procedure legally required and do not voluntary set up public meetings or conduct EIAs.

Can we overlook the construction of new coal-fired power plants which residents know nothing about? It reaffirms our belief that all coal-fired power plants, including small-scale plants, should require an EIA.