The Korea Herald


Energy demand hits peak this week amid heat wave

By Song Jung-hyun

Published : Aug. 6, 2023 - 15:27

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Air conditioners are displayed at a Lotte Himart branch in downtown Seoul on Aug. 2. (Yonhap) Air conditioners are displayed at a Lotte Himart branch in downtown Seoul on Aug. 2. (Yonhap)

Electricity demand is expected to reach its peak nationwide in the next two days as South Korea grapples with a record-breaking heat wave that was raised to the highest alert level Tuesday.

Electricity usage in South Korea is projected to reach 92.9 gigawatts both on Monday and Tuesday, to record the highest level this summer, according to the data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy released Sunday.

As the use of air conditioning increases especially at businesses amid the scorching heat, the pressure has been mounting on small business owners, who are likely to face higher on-year increases in their upcoming energy bills.

Last year, the average monthly electricity usage for both July and August was 1,586 kilowatt-hours, resulting in an average monthly electricity bill of 296,640 won ($227.50), based on data from the Korea Electric Power Corporation.

Due to the series of hikes in energy prices since last year, for the same electricity consumption, the average electricity bill in July and August is projected to reach 348,040 won ($266), pulling up the cost by 51,400 won ($39), up 17.3 percent from the previous year.

The projected figure also marks a 58 percent increase from 220,950 won ($169) this May.

In particular, Kepco is paying attention to the on-year increase in the use of electricity in June, which rose 1.9 percent from 9,978 gigawatts to 11,163 gigawatts per hour this year.

In response, the government is urging the expansion of the energy bill support scheme to ease the pressure on small business owners and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Notable measures include the replacement of cooling systems with high-efficiency devices and payment of electricity bills in installments.

Since June, small businesses that have received a small business enterprise certificate issued by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups can receive 1.5 times to two times the normal government subsidies for small businesses, when replacing eight items in their cooling systems with high-efficiency devices.

The government is also allocating 300 billion won to finance 40 percent of the product price when small business owners purchase grade-one energy-efficient air conditioners and other cooling system products.

Additionally, business owners are given the option to split their electricity bills for the June-September period into two to six installments.

"We urge small business owners to actively participate in efficient energy usage by refraining from running air conditioning with doors open and adhering to an indoor temperature of 26 degrees Celsius,” Kepco stated.