Gov’t accused of fudging energy supply info

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Gov’t accused of fudging energy supply info

As the government tries to wean Korea off nuclear energy, there is rising debate about whether the country will run short of power during the hottest weeks of summer.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy claims the power reserve rates remained above the 30 percent level on average in July and never fell below 10 percent even at the hottest points of the summer. It credited an expanded number of power plants for the comfortable supply situation.

But opponents of the nuclear-free energy policy, especially within opposition parties, argue the government is fiddling with the figures and actually forced companies to reduce energy use three times this summer already.

The government sent out emergency messages to about 3,000 companies to cut down energy consumptions twice in July. On Monday, it sent the same messages again.

A number of lawmakers from opposition parties argue that making such emergency orders three times in a single year is unusual. They say such orders have only been issued five times since 2014, which was when such orders were adopted after the country faced a major blackout in the summer of 2011. The government pays compensation to companies that follow the order to reduce energy consumption.

“It is kind of a tyranny for the government to order companies to shut down manufacturing lines while arguing at the same time that it doesn’t have any energy supply problem,” the Liberty Korea Party said in a press release on Monday.

“This is betraying the public since the government said it won’t face any supply shortages or hikes in electricity bills after it shuts down nuclear power plants.”

The opposition Bareun Party also criticized the government for being irrational in its justifications of its nuclear-free energy policy.

The Trade Ministry said it asked companies to cooperate since there was the possibility of the country running into problems like power outages.

According to the ministry, some power plants ran into temporary problem when the government first sent out orders on July 12. The second orders were sent on July 21, when the power reserve rate fell to 12 percent, the lowest level for this year at that point.

The ministry added that the reserve rate fell as low as 10 percent on Monday, which led to the third round of orders.

Opposition parties countered that the government didn’t send out emergency orders on Aug. 12, 2016 when consumption reached an all-time high and the reserve rate fell to 8.4 percent.

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