Powering downThe Ministry of Knowledge Economy carried out a training exercise on Monday to prepare for the possibility of electricity shortages during the summer.
If the nation’s reserves fall short of 4 million kilowatts, it ranks as an “emergency” situation. If our reserves drop to 2 million kilowatts of electricity or less, the nation enters an “alert” situation, which means that state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation will step in to control electricity distribution.
And if reserves dip below 1 million kilowatts, it’s considered a “severe” situation that will result in a drastic cut in the power supply.
The ministry expects that the maximum demand for electric power this summer will reach 70.7 million kilowatts, an 11.8 percent increase from a year earlier. With a rise in temperatures as of late, Korea’s maximum demand for electricity has been hitting record highs seemingly daily.
Our total electricity supply capacity stands at just 75.3 million kilowatts. Therefore, if electricity demand reaches the maximum level expected, we will face an emergency situation. And if just one or two power plants have a problem supplying power over the next few weeks, our reserves will drop immediately.
All these problems stem from the overconsumption of electricity in the country. A recently released Korea Development Institute report highlights the severity of the situation. The amount of electricity consumption in comparison to Korea’s total gross domestic product is 1.7 times more than that of the average of member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the report said.
In fact, the report shows that we are using more electricity on that basis than even Japan and the United States, which are energy hogs.
The KDI report attributes the high level of energy consumption in Korea to the relatively low costs of electricity here.
Residents are using vast amounts of electricity for heating and cooling their homes, while the business community and the agricultural industry are using more energy on a daily basis.
That’s why our electricity consumption continues to rise despite the government’s campaigns about the need to cut down on energy use.
As a result, the best way to save electricity is to revamp the pricing system and raise electricity bills.
The government has hiked electricity prices by an average of 3.5 percent this month. But that is not sufficient to deter people from using energy with reckless abandon. Now is the time for the government to adopt serious reforms in the electricity pricing system.