S. Korea's industrial electricity sales grow 2.5 pct in June

SEJONG, July 18 (Yonhap) -- The country's industrial electricity sales rose slightly from a year earlier in June, the government said Thursday, apparently due to growing demand for air conditioning.

Electricity consumption by the country's industrial sector rose 2.5 percent on-year to 22.09 billion kilowatt-hours, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Industrial electricity sales serve as a barometer of industrial activities as companies use more electricity when business is good and cut back when demand is low.

The ministry attributed the growth in June partly to a rise in exports of key products, such as semiconductors and mobile communication devices.

However, the country's overall exports shrank 0.9 percent on-year last month, indicating the rise in electricity use by the industrial sector apparently had more to do with a rise in temperatures.

The ministry, too, noted the average temperature in June came to 27.6 degrees Celsius, up 1.6 degrees from the same month last year.

Such a rise in temperatures apparently pushed up electricity consumption by other sectors as well.

Electricity consumption by households grew 1.7 percent on-year to 5.11 billion kilowatt-hours with consumption by the agricultural sector also gaining 1.5 percent. Overall sales of electricity grew 2.1 percent on-year to 37.37 billion kilowatt-hours, according to the ministry.

Still, the growth in electricity consumption was kept to a minimum, apparently due to the government's ongoing campaign to cut power consumption in the face of a corruption scandal that led to the shutdown of two operational nuclear reactors, each with the capability of producing 1 million kilowatts of electricity, in late May.

The two reactors are still undergoing painstaking work to replace what the ministry has called substandard parts used under fake quality test results.

The country has been struggling daily to maintain its power reserve at above a safe level of 4 million kilowatts as seven other nuclear reactors out of 23 in the country have also been out of comission for scheduled maintenance or safety checks at least since May.

Three reactors have recently resumed operation with the rest, including the two with substandard parts, expected to put back to work before the end of October.

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