Goverment still without an electricity master plan

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Goverment still without an electricity master plan

While companies of all sizes and state-run corporations are rolling up their sleeves to find ways to be more electricity-efficient, the government has again pushed back schedules to finalize the country’s basic master plan for power supply.

The biannual plan, originally scheduled to be completed by end of last year, had been put off until recently as the government focused on controlling supply and demand for electricity to avoid another nationwide winter blackout when power demand for heating surges.

The government finally proposed its provisional plan last week and announced a hearing for last Friday to discuss dos and don’ts with energy industry experts. But the hearing was canceled after many organizations opposed the provisional plan and occupied the hearing site at the headquarters of the Korea Electric Power Corporation.

The plan includes allowing private companies to build thermal power plants and proceeding with construction of nuclear power plants through 2025, which was approved two years ago. The new proposal does not contain plans for new nuclear power plants after then.

Some groups worry that conglomerates will expand into the energy sector.

The hearing has been rescheduled for Thursday, but the government yet has a definite plan by when to finalize the master plan.

“Our goal was to expedite the process to complete the master plan since it has already been delayed for more than a month,” said an official at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy’s electricity industry team. “But after the hearing was canceled, we are discussing whether we need to invite a wider range of the public to participate in the hearing and what other measures we should take to prevent another cancellation.”

Meanwhile, the Korea Energy Management Corporation said it will start providing loans for businesses to make their facilities more energy efficient. The budget for the program is 632.5 billion won ($582 million) and 432.5 billion won is earmarked for small and medium businesses, a 40 percent increase from last year.

Interests rates for SMEs range from 1.5 percent to 2.75 percent and large companies will be charged about 3.5 percent.

By Lee Sun-min []
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