YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — South Korea and the U.S. military are edging closer to an agreement that would increase the military’s electricity bill by 15 percent to 17 percent beginning next month, according to a Korea Electric Power Corp. official.

The U.S. military currently pays the reduced industrial rate for power, said Yon Won-sop, head of KEPCO’s business administration team. Last year, USFK paid about $35 million for power — but the South Korean army pays a general service rate about 40 percent more than the industrial rate, Yon said.

Negotiations have been under way with the status of forces agreement utilities subcommittee, he said. Separate bills will be issued to each USFK installation around South Korea, he said.

“It’s been talked about since 1989. I hope it really happens soon,” Yon added.

The final decision hasn’t been made, but the military and KEPCO have narrowed the difference to at most 17 percent to prevent a dramatic increase, he said.

The increase will not affect individual soldiers, as the military pays their electric bills as part of their housing agreement, officials said.

USFK officials said Monday they could not comment on the negotiations. KEPCO officials said they are confident the talks will be completed in the near future.

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