First level 2 power warning issued

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First level 2 power warning issued

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For the first time this year, Korea Power Exchange, the country’s state-run power distributor, issued a level 2 warning for a possible power shortage at 11:21 a.m. yesterday as the power reserve briefly plunged below 3.5 million kilowatts.

The last time that the level 2 “attention” warning was issued was Dec. 26 when demand for electricity skyrocketed during the cold spell last year.??The warning is issued when the total power reserve falls below 4 million kilowatts for more than 20 minutes or temporarily plunges below 3.5 million kilowatts. Households and companies need to keep their air-conditioners above 28 degrees Celsius (84.2 degrees Fahrenheit) during a level 2 warning.

This was the third consecutive day this summer that the power authority issued a warning since the shutdown of two nuclear reactors and delays in operation of two newly built reactors due to faulty parts with fabricated certificates last week. Ten out of the 23 nuclear power plants are currently out of operation.

As a sweltering heat wave is expected to arrive this summer, especially in the second week of August, worries about a massive power outage are growing. The highest temperature in Seoul was at 28.4 degrees Celsius yesterday.?

The prosecutors raided yesterday the headquarters and a branch office of Kepco E&C, an affiliate of Korea Electric Power Corporation, in a bid to find evidence for fabricating the certificates. The public company is in charge of confirming the certificates of parts to be built in the country’s nuclear power plants.

Criticism is leveled at the government for failing to accurately predict supply and demand of electricity, which is becoming a serious issue since the first massive blackout in September 2011.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy establishes a plan for power supply and demand every two years. The Energy Ministry had projected in 2006 that the country’s highest power demand would be 67.12 million kilowatts in 2012.

The actual demand last year turned out to be 74.29 million kilowatts, about 7.17 million kilowatts or 10 percent higher than the government’s forecast. The surplus is equivalent to the total output of seven nuclear power plants.?

In 2008, the Energy Ministry raised the prediction to 72.96 million kilowatts, but it also fell short of the actual amount.

Meanwhile, Moody’s released yesterday a report notifying Kepco of receiving a negative outlook for its credit, being aware of the ongoing power crisis in Korea.?

“The stoppages and delayed commissioning of the reactors are credit negative for Kepco because it will have to rely on expensive liquefied natural gas [LNG] power plants run by Kepco’s wholly owned power generation companies and independent power producers to compensate for the lost power,”the report said.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]
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