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Cold wave raises power usage, fuels blackout fears

Posted December. 12, 2012 07:25,   


The morning low in Seoul stayed below minus 10 degrees Celsius for the third day on Tuesday, driving up power consumption and putting electricity authorities on alert.

The Korea Power Exchange issued a "watch" warning in the morning for more than three hours, as the electricity reserve stayed below 4 million kilowatts. A blackout happens if electricity is consumed further and the first and second reactors of power plants break down. This dangerous situation has been occurring over the past week.

Power authorities issued an "interest" warning at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday as the electricity reserve fell to 3.79 million kilowatts. While the situation on Monday improved after 30 minutes, the "watch" warning was issued early Tuesday morning at a time when electricity demand is typically subdued.

Fearful over the issuance of an "attention" warning if the reserve drops to between 2 million and 3 million kilowatts, the Korea Power Exchange launched emergency plans including ordering businesses to keep consumption below 2 million kilowatts while expanding supply to electricity providers and controlling voltage to 1 million kilowatts. The electricity reserve, however, remained at more than 3 million kilowatts in the peak hours between 10 a.m. and noon. The warning was lifted at 11:45 a.m., when industrial facilities temporarily suspended operations before the lunch break.

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik told a Cabinet meeting, "The cold spell is worsening electricity supply and demand conditions," adding, "Related government offices should encourage the public to join the nationwide energy-conservation campaign."