Electric shock therapyThe early onset of the summer heat risks precipitating an energy crisis as people have turned on their air conditioners and electric fans earlier than usual in response to a rare June heat wave that has seen the mercury rise above 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). The nation’s electricity reserve slipped to 3.31 million kilowatts on Thursday afternoon, below the four million kilowatt threshold that sets off initial emergency actions.
This is the first time the electricity supply has set alarm bells ringing since unseasonably hot weather raised demand and caused a power outage last September.
If the reserve falls below three million kilowatts, authorities move to phase two of their emergency response measures by lowering the power pressure and scaling back power supplies to selected manufacturers. If it dips below two million kilowatts, supplies to factories will be cut by more than 50 percent. Although the situation can be fairly easily contained at present, drastic action such as a rolling blackouts will be inevitable if it gets much worse.
As there is little leeway in terms of supply. The only way of avoiding an energy crisis in such an event would be voluntary action from users. Consumers and companies would have to join the energy-saving campaign that the government has launched in conjunction with civilian groups to balance supply and demand in the peak summer months.
The authorities have been handing out leaflets and video clips as part of their energy-saving campaign. But no such endeavor can be successful without the voluntary support of the public, who must integrate it into their daily lives.
However, the public cannot always be called upon to solve such fundamental problems. The authorities need to step up their moves to address the cheap utility rate structure that has fanned excessive power demand.
When the electricity rate was cut 10 percent last winter, consumption jumped 33 percent. The Korea Electric Power Corporation is now suggesting a 13.1 percent hike in electricity bills, a proposal the government and politicians would be wise to consider carefully.