Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said a priority for Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) is to renegotiate the terms of contracts with independent power providers after he formally became the state-run utility’s chairman yesterday.
During a handover ceremony, he vowed to reverse the public’s negative sentiment toward the company, but declined to comment on a probe by the Agency Against Corruption on the company’s construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市).
The agency yesterday raided the power plant’s construction division and questioned five Taipower officials over the project’s procurements.
Hwang replaced Edward Chen (陳貴明), who resigned on May 5 after six years on the job following widespread complaints of inefficiency and waste at the company.
The complaints were sparked by the company’s planned increased to electricity rates — which will be gradually introduced in three phases beginning on June 10 — as Taipower aims to cut its heavy losses.
“Taking the post of Taipower chairman is not an easy job at this time, but I will face the challenge and turn the crisis into an advantage,” Hwang said.
Taipower, the nation’s largest electricity supplier and monopoly grid operator, incurred net losses of NT$36 billion (US$1.2 billion) in 2010, a 167 percent increase from NT$13 billion in 2009, according to statistics posted on the company’s Web site. The company has accumulated NT$150 billion in net losses as of the end of last month.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), who presided over the ceremony, said Taipower began losing money in 2006 because of rising international oil prices. While the company increased rates in 2006 and 2007, the increases were not enough, he added.
Hwang said Taipower had been under fire because of public misunderstanding of the utility’s operations, but acknowledged that there is room for improvement.
To improve the public’s perception of the company, Hwang said he would ensure full disclosure of information, effective communication with the public and flawless management.
In addition, the company would strictly follow measures proposed by a Ministry of Economic Affairs-organized task force to improve its to overall efficiency, he said. The task force is expected to deliver a report next month.
Hwang said he would also focus on transparency of electricity rates, procurement and fuel costs, and boost the company’s communication with the public, despite the complexities involving power generation and supply.
“I will make the company watch everything it spends, like a household does,” Hwang said, adding that he would enhance employees’ participation in the operations of the utility.