Banks shore up energy defenses

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Banks shore up energy defenses

With electricity usage soaring due to the excessive heat, the finance industry is gearing up to inspect emergency electricity systems to avoid unwanted blackouts that could disrupt the banking sector, industry sources said yesterday.

Most local banks run so-called uninterruptible power supply (UPS) solutions that provide emergency power when unexpected outages occur.

Kookmin Bank said it examined its UPS solutions in June before the current heat wave began battering the peninsula.

After running tests to see if the alternative power supply system was functioning properly, it replaced some storage batteries to keep the wheels greased.

“Our headquarters monitors the condition of the storage batteries, which serve as the core of UPS solutions, on a real-time basis,” said an employee at the bank. “This is just to ensure we’re fully prepared for the worst-case scenario.”

In the event that the UPS solutions fail to activate, the lender has separate back-up generators that use petrol.

In a similar vein, Woori Bank recently secured two power-generating trucks that can be rapidly dispatched to smaller offices which lack UPS solutions if energy-related problems arise.

Hana Bank has been replacing its 400 outdated UPS solutions since last year and conducted a review of those in place at its 650 branches nationwide in July.

Meanwhile, Korea Exchange (KRX) has been checking its generators on a monthly basis to make sure everything is shipshape. The bourse operator runs its own generators that automatically provide electricity when the power supply is suddenly cut off.

“We’re closely watching the Korea Electric Power Corporation’s reserve electricity level,” said an official at KRX. “We’ve also run emergency drills every quarter by cutting off our main electricity supply to prepare for emergencies.”

Securities firms aren’t immune to the threat of a blackout and are also keeping a watchful eye on their emergency generators as they fear stock-trading operations could be derailed by power outages.

While industry sources said they are ready to cope up with any contingencies, others claimed the back-up generators will be of little avail during any extended blackouts. UPS solutions can last for up to four hours, depending on which storage batteries are used in alternative power generators.

“Big bank branches run their own power generators in addition to UPS solutions, but there’s little that smaller branches can do when the latter run out of power,” said an industry official.

“We’re looking into various options, including partnering with private power generators that could help us stay powered up.”

By Kim Mi-ju []
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