Gov’t scrambles to avoid blackouts next week

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Gov’t scrambles to avoid blackouts next week

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Prime Minister Chung Hong-won speaks at a cabinet meeting to discuss how to ward off possible blackouts during next week’s heat wave. [NEWSIS]

Worries over possible blackouts next week are building as a brutal heat wave is forecast to hit the Korean Peninsula, causing power consumption to spike.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won confirmed measures to forestall a power shortage next week submitted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy at a meeting yesterday.

They include enhanced regulations on power use in order to keep as many power reserves as possible.

Korea experienced a massive blackout in September 2011 for the first time due to a shortage of power.

According to the Korea Power Exchange, the peak demand for power is predicted to reach 78.7 million kilowatts in the second week of August, which should be the hottest period of this summer. The forecast is higher than the power authority’s supply capacity of 77.67 million kilowatts.

The average demand during the rainy season in July was around 74 million kilowatts.

The government plans to secure an additional 500,000 kilowatts of power by mobilizing private power plants. It also plans to test run a power plant under construction in Sejong in order to get an additional 100,000 kilowatts of electricity. The new plant is scheduled to be completed in November.

Another plan is to move forward the resumption of operations at the Hanwool nuclear power plant to this month. The plant is currently off-line for replacement of parts.

At the same time, the government will encourage businesses and households to reduce power consumption through demand management.

It aims to make power-guzzling companies slash power use by 2.2 million to 2.8 million kilowatts. By splitting the vacation season of major industries into different periods, the government hopes to save 1.2 million to 1.4 million kilowatts.

A selective peak-time rate system that applies higher rates to electricity bills during the peak consumption time (from 2 p.m. through 5 p.m.) and cuts rates for other times will begin next week for around 1,300 households that voluntarily agreed to join the program. The government expects such measures will conserve about 4.8 million kilowatts of electricity.

The Meteorological Administration has forecast a nationwide heat wave from next Tuesday. The highest temperature for Seoul is forecast to be 32 to 33 degrees Celsius (89.6 to 91.4 Fahrenheit). The temperature will go up to 35 degrees Celsius in Daegu and Ulsan.

“Adjusting demand will be crucial this summer,” said an official at the Energy Ministry.

BY SONG SU-HYUN, KANG CHAN-SOO [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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