Korea Barely Escapes Blackout

The country barely escaped a blackout on Monday, the first of three days when the worst power shortage are expected, because businesses, government offices and the public joined hands in a nationwide power-saving campaign.

Businesses put up with production disruptions, the government stopped the use of air-conditioners at public organizations, and people endured substantial inconvenience in sultry weather.

Korea Power Exchange on Monday said the heat wave sent power demand soaring to a record 79.7 million kW as of 3 p.m. A blackout seemed inevitable as this was 2.66 kW more than the maximum supply capacity of 77.04 kW.

But authorities secured an additional power supply of 7.06 million kW through emergency measures like private power generators, maintaining power reserves at 4.4 million kW.

And the government controlled power demand by turning off the air-conditioners at about 19,000 public organizations across the country.

Nonetheless, power supply will not be easy on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, generators in 22 thermoelectric power plants are superannuated, having long exceeded their typical lifecycle of 30 years. The 22 plants with combined generating capacity of 5.11 million kW account for over 7.5 percent of the total 290 thermoelectric power plants.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 13, 2013 09:28 KST