KEPCO agrees to revise progressive electricity rates system

SEOUL-- South Koreans will see lower electricity bills this summer after state-run utility company Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) on Friday decided to revise the progressive electricity rates system.

KEPCO said its board of directors accepted a government-civilian panel's recommendation to ease progressive tariffs for residential power use every summer following its special meeting.

KEPCO and the government have been facing criticism that the current electric billing system adds a burden on households during the peak summer season when electricity use is particularly high. According to the expert panel, which was formed last December, more than 16 million households are expected to see 10,142-won (US$8.70) discounts on their monthly bills under the revised system.

KEPCO currently applies three-stage progressive rates for residential power usage, which creates a threefold difference in electricity bills paid by homes using a lot and those that are thriftier. Under the revision, the electricity use ceilings of the first two stages will be raised in July and August, allowing people to use more electricity at the same cost.

The revised system will be applied next month once the government makes the final approval.

Following the joint panel's recommendation last week, some KEPCO board of directors expressed their concerns that such changes to the progressive electric billing would force the company to lose up to 300 billion won in revenue and that they could be considered guilty of breach of trust.

KEPCO then asked for financial support from the government. Seoul's energy ministry has so far responded that it is willing to cover some of the losses, although it needs to discuss it with related ministries and the National Assembly.

KEPCO posted an operating loss of 630 billion won in the first quarter of the year on a consolidated basis, widening from an operating loss of 128 billion won a year earlier, while its sales declined 2.9 percent on-year to 15.24 trillion won.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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