Wed, Aug 16, 2006 - Page 12 News List

CEPD increases budget for nuclear plant again

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) approved on Monday a budget increase of NT$63.8 billion (US$1.95 billion) to fund construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

This is the third time that state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), the nation's sole electricity supplier, has increased the budget for the project. The total investment in the plant has now reached NT$233.5 billion, compared with an original proposed budget of NT$169.7 billion in 1992.

The budget increase will allocate NT$19 billion for capacity expansion and NT$7.2 billion to cover the cost of defaulting on contracts due to suspension of the project in 2000. The rest of the increase will be used to pay for expenses incurred from fluctuating exchange rates, design changes, rising prices of raw materials and other costs, said Hsieh Fa-ta (謝發達), a vice chairman of the council.

The construction of the plant, located in Kungliao Township (貢寮), Taipei County, was suspended in October 2000 amid opposition from residents, and resumed in 2001, after 110 days of suspension.

Taipower also obtained an extension for commercial operation and completion. The council demanded that unit one of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant begin commercial operation in 2009, and that the entire project be completed by July 2012.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said yesterday that the ministry will supervise Taipower to comply with the new schedule and budget.

However, he still hopes to start commercial operation of the plant in 2009, to ease rising demand for electricity.

The anticipated power demand during the three years until 2009 will be filled by unit three to unit six of a thermal power plant fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Tatan Township (大潭) in Taoyuan County.

The capacity of the four units is estimated at 2,900 megawatts, Hsieh said. The planned capacity of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is 2,700 megawatts.

"The replacement plant will ensure the supply of electricity, but the costs will be significantly increased," Wang Yunn-ming (王運銘), deputy director of the Bureau of Energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said in a phone interview yesterday.

Wang did not reveal the extra costs from the postponement. According to some reports, electricity generated by LNG in Taiwan is more expensive than that generated by nuclear power.

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