Electricity to cost more during peak hours

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Electricity to cost more during peak hours

The government will charge higher electricity rates during peak hours as a part of a larger effort to prevent another blackout similar the one that shut down parts of the country for several hours on the afternoon of Sept. 15, it said yesterday.

In a separate announcement, a senior Blue House official said yesterday that Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-kyung will soon leave the post after preliminary cleanup measures have been arranged.

“There is no change in the stance that Choi should sort out the mess and then resign,” the official said yesterday in a meeting with reporters.

“The president made it clear during his visit to the Korea Power Exchange that the people responsible for the situation will be held accountable, and the cause of the blackout has now been revealed. We have said that the priority is cleaning up the mess and this principle will be respected without exception.

“We think the first stage of resolving the crisis has been completed.”

Three days after the blackout, Choi said he would fully shoulder the blame. At the time, the Blue House said it was desirable for him to stay in the post for the time being and resolve the situation.

Government offices and public corporations such as the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Korea Electric Power Corp. and Korea Power Exchange jointly announced the new rate plan. They conceded that a miscalculation of supply and demand was the primary reason for the unprecedented nationwide blackout that inconvenienced businesses and citizens.

“In a bid to control demand we’re going to gradually introduce a cost-based electricity rate,” said Yim Jong-ryong, minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. “We will also improve the system by adopting different rates for different time slots and seasons.”

He said the government will apply higher rates at certain hours when demand peaks and provide information of the rates on a real-time basis.

Unseasonably high temperatures increased electricity demand at a time when energy authorities reduced supply for scheduled maintenance, causing the blackout.

The government will also put in place a program to accurately gauge demand by reflecting temperature changes from global warming and enhancing its advisory system for potential power outages, Yim said.

Blackouts affected around 1.62 million households across the country on Sept. 15, forcing factories and shops to temporarily suspend work. Some people were trapped inside elevators before they were rescued by the emergency services. More than 3,000 cases have been filed against the monopolistic Korea Electric Power Corp. to seek compensation for damages estimated to be worth about 17.7 billion won ($14.8 million).

Kepco plans to accept claims until next Tuesday.

Korea is aiming to increase its electricity reserves to more than 14 percent by 2014 from the current 7 percent.

By Limb Jae-un, Ser Myo-ja [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]

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