June 22, 2018 11:39
The government on Thursday said it will tap into a public fund created to support the utility industry to cover the huge cost of shutting down the Wolseong No. 1 nuclear reactor in North Gyeongsang Province.
It also said it could hike late-night electricity fees to pay for its phase-out of nuclear energy.
Plans to wean Korea off reliance on nuclear power will entail astronomical costs. State-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power recently decided to shut down the Wolseong reactor even though it had just had its life span extended to 2022 at a cost of W700 billion. The cost of the shutdown is estimated at W1 trillion (US$1=W1,113).
Park Won-joo at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy told reporters, "We are considering tapping into the power industry infrastructure fund to finance it."
The problem is that the fund was created by allocating 2.7 percent of electricity fees citizens pay each month to bolster the nation’s power infrastructure and provide stable electricity supplies to more people.
Asked if the government's intended use is compatible with the original purpose of the fund, a ministry official said, "The fund is being used at present in various new renewable energy projects" and using it to pay for the phase-out will not violate regulations.
But experts disagree. Prof. Chung Bum-jin at Kyunghee University, said, "The infrastructure fund was created to provide stable electricity to the public. I can't understand how the government intends to use that money for political objectives."
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