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Government Struggling to Save Energy

Posted May. 29, 2008 08:59,   


With surging oil prices putting a burden on the economy and the livelihoods of people, the government and the public sector are taking initiatives to save energy. At an urgent meeting held by Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, the government decided to come up with energy-saving measures through which it and the public sector can reduce energy consumption by 10 percent.

At the meeting participated by Finance Minister Kang Man-soo, Homeland Minister Chung Jong-hwan, Administrative Minister Won Se-hoon, and Ambassador for energy and resources Cho Hyun, the government decided to charge parking fees for government workers to encourage the use of public transportation.

Other energy-saving measures it is considering include banning elevator operation on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors, turning on fans and air conditioners only when the temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius, and ordering all government staff to unplug all electronic devices when leaving the office.

The government plans to encourage state-owned corporations and subway stations not to turn on air conditioners unless the temperature reaches a specified level. It will also urge large corporations and civic organizations to voluntarily support the energy-saving measures.

The government began its energy saving campaign with the knowledge that small efforts can lead to big changes.

It will consider introducing an “energy voucher system” in which poor citizens can be provided with oil and gas if they show “energy coupons.”

Considering that the recent oil price hike has put a significant burden on the freight industry, the government will mull over whether to continue to pay oil subsidies, which were initially planned to expire late next month.

Amid the rapid rise of both diesel and gasoline prices, the gas price is expected to soar again next month.

According to the industry, E1 and SK Gas, which import liquefied petroleum gas, have already decided to raise the LPG price and are now thinking about when and by how much to raise it.

The price of propane gas used by households for cooking is expected to increase more than 100 won per kilogram and that of butane gas mainly used by cars more than 50 won per liter.

Nationwide average prices of propane gas and butane gas stood at 1,676 won per kilogram and 946 won per liter, respectively, last month.

If importers raise LPG prices, oil refineries, which refine petroleum, produce LPG, and distribute throughout the nation, are also likely to raise prices.

The liquefied natural gas price, which has remained at the same level since the beginning of this year, is also expected to rise soon.

Vice Minister Lee Jae-hoon of the Knowledge Economy Ministry in a radio interview said, “The city gas price has seemed to increase more than 20 percent.”

According to Opinet, a Web site providing oil price information run by the Korea National Oil Corporation, the diesel price has exceeded that of gasoline at increasingly more gas stations. Out of 9,369 gas stations across the nation, 2,697 (28.7 percent) had put a higher price tag on diesel than on gasoline, as of Wednesday.

kimhs@donga.com cha@donga.com