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South Korea to begin inter-Korean power transmissions

Jun 21, 2007 - BBC Monitoring

South Korea boosted its supply of electricity to an industrial complex in North Korea on Thursday, opening the way for inter-Korean power transmission via high-voltage cables for the first time in nearly 60 years.

he move came with the dedication of a substation in the Kaesong [Kaeso'ng] industrial complex which can receive far more electricity from the South than before, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said. In December 2004, the Koreas agreed on the power supply to the industrial park, the most salient result of inter-Korean rapprochement. South Korea started to provide electricity via low-voltage cables in March 2005. According to the ministry, the Pyeonghwa (meaning peace in Korean) substation can receive 100,000 kilowatts of electricity, enough to serve up to 30,000 households, from the South via 154-kilovolt power cables that cross the Demilitarized Zone. Previously, South Korea's state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) provided 15,000 kilowatts of electricity through 22.9-kilovolt power lines. Currently, 23 South Korean companies operate in the complex, located about 60 kilometres northwest of Seoul, with an additional 16 preparing to start operations. The mammoth complex hopes to lure up to 300 South Korean companies once the first phase of construction is completed late this year. "The opening of the substation marks the first time in 59 years that high-voltage power cables have been used to send industrial-scale electricity between the two Koreas," said Deputy Energy Minister Ahn Chul-shik. In May 1948, North Korea unilaterally cut off power to South Korea, which consumed an average 103,000 kilowatts of electricity a month before the suspension. Two years later, the Korean War (1950-53) broke out, and most links between the Koreas remained severed until the late 1990s. The official said the electricity will be used only in the industrial complex and that any outside use will be contingent upon separate arrangements between Seoul and Pyongyang. According to KEPCO, North Korea has the capacity to generate up to 7 million kilowatts of electricity, but it only produces around 2 million kilowatts due to lack of fuel and dilapidated infrastructure. South Korea has the capacity for 67.5 million kilowatts and produces up to 61.5 million kilowatts during peak summer months. Source: Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0151 gmt 21 Jun 07 BBC Mon Alert AS1 AsPol tbj

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