SEOUL-- South Korea ordered local companies to cut their power use to maintain a stable level of the electricity reserve rate as a cold spell caused a spike in heating demand, the state-run power exchange said Thursday.

The Korea Power Exchange (KPX) said it issued a demand response order to companies shortly after the country's power use soared to 85 million kilowatts at around 9 a.m., near this winter's maximum.

It briefly rose to a record level of 8.51 million kW at around 10 a.m. but didn't rise further as companies began decreasing their power use, the KPX said.

About 2,300 companies complied with the government's request and saved about 1.5 million kW of electricity use after 9 a.m., the exchange said.

The order, this winter's first, came as most parts of South Korea were hit by a severe cold wave early Thursday morning. The temperature at some mountainous regions fell as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.

The demand response system operates when load reductions are needed in severe weather conditions. Adopted in 2014, 3,580 companies are members of the system. The KPX operated the system five times last year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency