Next three days are crunch time for power supply

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Next three days are crunch time for power supply


Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jik speaks about measures for potential power shortage from today through Wednesday at a meeting yesterday with electricity-related government officials at Kepco headquarters, southern Seoul. By Choi Seung-sik

The Korean power authorities went into emergency mode, saying the country could face its worst energy crisis in the next three days.

As the heat waves are not expected to break, electricity demand is predicted to exceed 80 million kilowatts during the three days. Thursday is Liberation Day, a national holiday, and demand will go down.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jik issued a plea for conservation to the nation yesterday after a meeting with officials at the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) headquarters in southern Seoul.

“Please refrain from using electricity as much as possible from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at homes, stores, businesses and government institutions,” Yoon said. “Rotating blackouts may be inevitable if even one generator breaks down.”

Yoon also urged people to maintain room temperatures of higher than 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 Fahrenheit).

Without emergency measures, power demand is expected to reach up to 80.5 million kilowatts today, the highest ever and 3 million kilowatts higher than last summer’s peak. Power reserves may drop to as low as 1.8 million kilowatts even with the nationwide power-saving initiatives. That would initiate a level four alert when reserves drop to between 1 and 2 million kilowatts.

“I strongly encourage all of you to do your best with unusual determination,” he told the energy officials.

On Sept. 15, 2011, the reserves plunged to 0.2 million kilowatts and resulted a rotating unexpected blackout, in which the government suspends the power supply in rotation from regular households to industries and to government institutions.

Only last week Kepco was sanguine about the power situation. However, a heat wave keeping temperatures at 35 degrees Celsius during the day has followed the monsoon rains, which ended early last week.

Among the five levels of alert, the highest - level five - signifies reserves of less than 1 million kilowatts.

“Our generators are at full operation, and not even the smallest technical failure is acceptable this week,” one source at a generating company said.

Meanwhile, a generator complex in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, went out of operation Saturday night. The generator, which produces 0.1 million kilowatts, was fixed the next day. It is owned by Korea East-West Power, one of Kepco’s subsidiaries. It posed no problem to the power supply in the greater Seoul area, the company said.

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