(2nd LD) S. Korea to cut residential electricity bills for July-Aug.
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(2nd LD) S. Korea to cut residential electricity bills for July-Aug.

2018/08/07 12:06

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SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will adjust the residential progressive electricity tariffs for July and August to ease the household burden from heavy electricity bills caused by the unprecedented summer heat, the energy ministry said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it will temporarily revise the first two stages of the progressive tariffs for residential power use, which would save about 276.1 billion won (US$245.2) in energy costs for the peak summer season.

"(The government) will temporarily ease the progressive electricity rates and come up with ways to help underprivileged communities remain cool," Minister Paik Un-gyu said during a meeting with ruling Democratic Party lawmakers.

Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, announces measures to cut the electricity cost burden on households after a meeting with ruling Democratic Party lawmakers at the National Assembly on Aug. 7, 2018. (Yonhap) Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, announces measures to cut the electricity cost burden on households after a meeting with ruling Democratic Party lawmakers at the National Assembly on Aug. 7, 2018. (Yonhap)

The state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) applies the three-stage progressive rates for residential power usage, which creates a three times difference in electricity bills paid by homes using a lot and those that are more thrifty.

Currently, the unit price for those who use below 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month is set at 93.3 won, and it rises to 187.9 won per kWh for 201-400 kWh and 280.6 won per kWh for over 400 kWh.

Under the support measure, the baseline will be upgraded to 300 kWh and the ceiling of the second stage will rise to 500 kWh over the two-month period, the ministry said.

The government also offered to expand discounts for low-income families and households with babies to help them stay safe in the extreme summer weather.

South Korea applies incremental electricity rates only to households, which are charged higher rates the more power they use. The system puts heavier burdens on households compared with industries, whose electricity rates change depending on the season and time

In 2016, the government temporarily cut the electricity bills for three months in the summer season in response to a public outcry over massive electricity bills under the former progressive tariff system, which broke up the bracket into six stages with a maximum price gap of 11.6 times.

Industrial power consumption makes up more than 56 percent of the total and residential use accounts for just 13 percent. Schools, agriculture and commercial users make up the rest, according to KEPCO.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

ejkim@yna.co.kr

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