S. Korea issues preliminary warning for power shortage

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea issued a preliminary warning for a possible power shortage Monday, signaling the start of what is expected to be a long streak of difficulties created by a recent shutdown of nuclear reactors.

The warning was issued after the country's power reserve level temporarily dipped to under 4.5 million kilowatts, according to the Korea Power Exchange, the state-run distributor of electricity. A level 2 warning is issued when the power reserve falls below 4 million kilowatts.

The Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) earlier expected the power reserve to drop to as low as a little over 3 million kilowatts.

The ongoing difficulty was created after the government shut down two operational nuclear reactors while also delaying the scheduled operation of two newly built reactors due to faulty parts that were allegedly supplied under fake quality warranties in and around 2008.

The shutdown of the two 1-million kilowatt reactors has cut the country's total energy generation capacity to 76.7 million kilowatts. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has said the country's peak power demand was expected to reach 78.7 million kilowatts at the height of the summer in the second week of August.

With no means to significantly boost the country's generation capacity, the government announced a set of measures aimed at reducing the country's power consumption, which include financial incentives for firms and households that reduce their consumption, along with penalties for businesses that fail to do so.

In a meeting with business leaders Monday, Minister Yoon Sang-jick requested full support of businesses, especially manufacturers.

"Minister Yoon expressed regrets over inconveniences caused by the nuclear reactor issue and stressed the importance of full and sincere support of the energy-intensive industrial circle to prevent a national crisis," the ministry said in a press release.

The minister also called for painstaking efforts to reduce power consumption in a separate meeting with members of the Korea Nonferrous Metal Association earlier in the day, according to the ministry.

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