Lawmakers need to get realSky 72 golf club in Incheon recently reported it has saved 252 million won ($233,600) on electricity and 7.7 billion won on labor by shedding 46 part-time jobs after deciding it would close its doors after daylight. It should be applauded for its restructuring and austerity measures. Yet closing after daylight has also cost the golf club a double loss in revenue because of a decrease in the number of golfers, which translates into a loss of 3.2 billion won in taxes for the government.
This is a small example of the fallout from the rolling brownouts that are a part of the government’s energy conservation measures. At the same time, the government’s shortsightedness has resulted in higher prices for the average citizen. The government has been enforcing dimmed lights and power shutdowns in large shopping centers, residential areas, bars and golf clubs at night since March.
No one is arguing against the need to save energy amidst sky-high fuel costs in a country that relies completely on oil imports. The country’s electricity reserve margin versus its maximum demand estimate hovers below the comfortable range of 10 percent. The margin is estimated at 6.6 percent this year, 7.3 percent in 2012 and 8.6 percent in 2013. The electricity reserve is only expected to reach a comfortable range of 13.9 percent in 2014. Until then, we need to be thrifty with our electricity consumption. Energy conservation is a must for environmental reasons, too.
But the government’s heavy-handed policy ordering retailers to turn their lights out is outdated. Without employing any creativity to save energy, the government turned to the oldest and easiest way in the book - power outages in warmer weather.
Golf clubs argue that after-daylight closures can help them save 12.8 billion won on their electricity bill per year but say that it also causes a loss of 600 billion won in revenue a year. Some golf clubs are flaunting the regulation by choosing to pay a 3 million won fine instead.
Meanwhile, the public loses the 75.5 billion won in taxes and the 5,040 permanent and 610,000 temporary jobs the golf clubs provide.
The economy is turning weak as consumption remains depressed. It will only worsen if the upper class does not spend enough. If a policy turns out to be inefficient and unfeasible regardless of the good intention behind it, it is better to live without. Lawmakers should leave their desks and pay more attention to what is going on in the real world.