Tue, Aug 01, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Taipower expecting new funds for nuclear plant

ENERGY REQUIREMENTS The nation's biggest provider of electricity needs more funding to allow it to complete a nuclear power installation in the north of the country

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Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), the nation's biggest electricity generator, said it expects the government to approve new funding for its fourth nuclear power plant this month, allowing construction to continue.

State-run Taipower may have to halt work on the plant in northern Taiwan at the end of this month because the government hasn't yet approved an additional budget of NT$54.3 billion (US$1.7 billion) that the company requested, the Taipei-based Commercial Times reported yesterday.

Taipower is seeking funds in addition to the NT$188.8 billion already approved by the government, after a suspension of construction in 2000 helped push up costs. The plant will help meet electricity demand in the nation's north, which has a shortage and gets some of its supplies from the south.

"It's impossible construction of the No. 4 nuclear power plant will be halted for lack of funding," spokesman Clint Chou (周義岳) said in an interview yesterday. "We haven't even used all the funds the government already approved."

On Oct. 27, 2000 the government ordered Taipower to suspend building the No. 4 nuclear power project amid opposition from residents near the site in northern Taipei county.

The government reinstated the project in February 2001, after the constitutional court ruled that the decision to halt construction was flawed because lawmakers weren't consulted.

The project was 56 percent complete at the end of June and the company plans to bring the plant's first unit on line in July 2009, three years behind schedule, Chou said.

The company expects the Cabinet's Council for Economic Planning and Development to approve the new schedule and additional funding this month, Chou said yesterday.

The nation has three operating nuclear power plants that have a total installed capacity of 5,144 megawatts, accounting for 14 percent of the nation's generating capacity as of May this year.

The fourth has a planned capacity of 2,700 megawatts.

Taipower had "problems" securing subcontractors and workers after the halt, which pushed up construction costs, Chou, said on Oct. 14.

The project was first approved by the government in 1981, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) were in power.

The government owns 97 percent of the utility, which generates about 75 percent of the electricity the nation uses and monopolizes transmission in Taiwan.

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