The halt of nuclear reactors due to malfunctions and a corruption scandal exposed this year are expected to cost nearly 3 trillion won (US$2.79 billion) in taxpayers' money, an opposition legislator said Sunday.
Already, the halt of nine nuclear reactors this year has caused a loss of some 2.85 trillion won for the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), according to Rep. Park Wan-joo of the main opposition Democratic Party.
Such a loss was prompted as KEPCO, the country's sole power supplier, had been forced to supply electricity from other, more expensive sources, such as diesel power plants, especially during the summer season when it had faced a daily struggle to prevent the depletion of its power reserves, possibly causing a nationwide blackout.
Currently, one kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by a nuclear reactor costs 4 won while the same amount of power generated by coal costs between 50 won and 60 won. The same amount generated by diesel costs up to 400 won.
This has led to a 5.4 percent increase in the average generation cost of the already struggling KEPCO from 146.91 won per kilowatt to 154.80 won per kilowatt, accelerating the growth of KEPCO's chronic deficit, Park said, citing related data from the Korea Power Exchange, the state-run distributor of electricity.
Two of the nine nuclear reactors shut down this year were put out of work due to a corruption scandal, in which large amounts of substandard control cables had been supplied under fake quality certificates in and around 2010.
South Korea currently operates 23 nuclear reactors that supply about 30 percent of all its electricity needs. Five of the 23 reactors continued to remain out of work as of Sunday due to the corruption scandal or scheduled maintenance, according to the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., the state-run operator of nuclear power plants.