Korea Electric Power Corp.
Korea Electric Power Corp., known as Kepco, has a virtual monopoly in power generation and distribution in South Korea. The company was founded in 1982 when the government nationalized the electric power industry. Even though Kepco has gone public in Seoul and New York, the South Korean government and a government-controlled bank together hold more than 50% of the utility.
Kepco spun off its power generation operations to form six units, including Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, in the 2000s. All six of the new companies are wholly owned subsidiaries.
Some independent companies have entered the power generation business.
Kepco's rates are regulated by the government. Since the utility cannot pass on fuel cost swings to customers, its earnings tend to fluctuate along with crude oil and natural gas prices. Since it has extremely good credit standing, it has managed to maintain a strong credit rating even when high crude oil prices meant it was losing money.
In line with government policy, Kepco intends to invest in nuclear power plants. As of 2013, South Korea was dependent on the atom for 26% of its power needs. The government aims to raise that ratio to 29% by 2035.
With South Korea's overall energy demand on the rise, it is estimated that the country will need to add at least 16 to 18 nuclear power reactors to the 23 has been operating by 2035. And even more new reactors will need to be built if any existing reactors are decommissioned.
Kepco also exports nuclear reactors. It landed a contract from the United Arab Emirates, beating competition from leading Japanese and U.S. companies.
Following the meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in 2011, however, some South Koreans have been calling for an end to nuclear power.