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(LEAD) S. Korea faces yet another day of possible power shortage

2013/08/13 11:29

(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of a preliminary warning issued in 5th para)

SEJONG, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was again expected to face a possible power shortage Tuesday with temperatures continuing to rise to record highs, government officials said.

With no efforts to cut energy consumption, the country's power reserve was expected to dip to as low as 1.56 million kilowatts, according to state-run electricity provider Korea Electric Power Corp.

The forecast is far lower than what is considered a safe level of 4 million kilowatts. It also compares with an earlier forecast for Monday at 1.8 million kilowatts.

With temperatures rising to record highs in many areas, the government said the daily crisis will begin at 10 a.m. instead of the usual 1 p.m.

A preliminary power shortage warning was issued at 11:19 a.m. after the power reserve dipped to below 5 million kilowatts, the state-run Korea Power Exchange said in a texted message.

South Korea's struggle began in late May when the country was forced to shut down two of its 23 nuclear reactors for substandard parts used under fake quality certificates in 2010 and prior.

Seven other reactors had also been out of operation for scheduled maintenance or inspection though three of them have since been put back to work. Offering a bit of relief, the nuclear safety watchdog on Monday approved the resumption of another nuclear reactor that had been inoperable for over a year though it may take a few days for the 1-million kilowatt generator to reach its maximum output.

Still, various efforts to cut power consumption are in place.

Starting from Monday, the government placed a temporary ban on air conditioning at all government and public offices until Wednesday, during which the country's power consumption was expected to reach its annual peak.

Such efforts helped maintain the country's power reserve at above 4 million kilowatts all throughout the day on Monday.

"Like yesterday, we need efforts by our citizens to reduce their use of electricity," said an official from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. "We are asking the people to bear with us for the inconvenience for a little longer and take part in the efforts to cut power consumption."

   bdk@yna.co.kr

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