Fearing blackout, South Korea calls on public to curb electricity use | News | DW | 12.08.2013
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Fearing blackout, South Korea calls on public to curb electricity use

People across South Korea are expected to avoid using electricity during peak hours for the next three days. The appeal from the energy minister comes amid trouble in the nuclear power sector and an ongoing heatwave.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Yoon Sang-jik called on South Korean citizens and businesses to curb electricity usage for three days beginning on Monday.

"We are facing potentially our worst power crisis," Minister Yoon Sang-jik said on the eve of the predicted sharp drop in power reserves.

"We may have to carry out a rolling blackout... if one single power plant goes out of operation," he added.

Power reserves were predicted to drop below 1.8 million kilowatts across South Korea on Monday according to the Yonhap news agency and the state energy provider. Such a sharp drop would force government offices to halt the usage of all non-essential electric devices, as well as air conditioning and lighting, according to a spokesperson from the Korea Power Exchange (KPE).

Technical problems reporteldy forced operators to take the Seocheon power plant offline briefly on Monday. The 200,000-kilowatt-capacity plant resumed operations at only half of its capacity an hour later, according to the news agency AFP. This information could not be corroborated with a second source.

Over the weekend, technical problems led to the shut down of a power plant with a 500,000-kilowatt-capacity, adding to the strain on power supplies resulting from the recent closure of six nuclear reactors. An ongoing heatwave has also contributed to the upswing in energy consumption.

kms/hc (AFP, dpa)