Sat, Sep 02, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Taipower warns of Taipei blackouts beginning in 2012

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The Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said Taipei may face large-scale blackouts starting in 2012 because grip upgrades have been delayed by opposition from local residents.

Construction of five extra high-voltage substations in the Taipei area is behind schedule by three-to-four years, Lee Chuan-lai (李傳來), spokesman of the Taipei-based utility, said by telephone yesterday. The substations are designed to supplement four similar ones that were built 18-to-30 years ago, he said.

Claims that electromagnetic radiation from substations is a health risk to people living nearby has held up upgrades to the grid in metropolitan Taipei, home to a quarter of the nation's 23 million population. The utility rejects the concerns and is running television commercials to gain backing for its plans.

"We should all take the difficulties we are facing in electricity supply seriously," Lee said. "Pressure is building, and we may have problems in 2012, when power rationing may be needed."

Substations lower the voltage of electricity from generators before the power is transmitted to households, shops and factories.

Taipower uses more than 90 percent of the capacity at the four existing extra high-voltage substations around Taipei, Lee said.

"The facilities are over-loaded," which could cause some limited power failures, he added.

On July 17 about 6,000 households were without power for two hours, he said.

The government owns 97 percent of Taipower, which generates about 75 percent of the electricity the nation uses and monopolizes all transmission.

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