[EDITORIALS]Bad Time for Power Problems

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[EDITORIALS]Bad Time for Power Problems

We are shocked to learn that a combined cycle power plant in Boryeong, in which the Korea Electric Power Corporation has invested nearly 1 trillion won ($779 million) since 1996, does not work properly due to defects. Criticism mounts; people cannot understand how the public utility constructed the power plant in such a careless manner. The turbine generator, the core of the plant, was completed at the end of 1998 and some technical defects were found during a test run. The plant has still not begun normal operations even after more than two and a half years. The utility company explained that operations could be normalized after repairing the generator. Yet Alstom, the French supplier of the generator, delayed repair work giving various excuses, and it will take at least another year to solve the plant's problems, the utility said.

There are two important points about the Boryeong power plant. First, we want to know if the utility company followed proper administrative and technological procedures for the project. According to the utility, imported components of the power plant cost about $400 million. We wonder why the Korea Electric Power Corp., Korea's largest public company and the sole electricity provider, failed to detect the technical defects of the expensive facility. It is no wonder that suspicions have grown about improper lobbying or special favors when selecting a supplier. Although the project was planned and carried out by the previous administration, the Board of Audit and Inspection and the judicial authority should examine and lay those suspicions to rest.

Second, we wonder if the power plant can be repaired, or if it will continue to be just an expensive pile of scrap. The utility company said Alstom is repairing the plant at its expense. Because the public power company has kept quiet about the problem for two and a half years, we doubt that the French company is paying appropriate compensation and that the plant can be repaired satisfactorily. In the scorching hot summer, consumers fear to turn on air conditioners and fans because of the high cost of electricity. For those people, the government and the utility company should make public the problems at the power plant and how they propose to solve them.
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