Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 15 News List

Taipower chairman announces retirement plan

BACK TO SCHOOL:Speculation about Chu Wen-chen’s retirement had swirled for months, especially in the wake of a major blackout that affected millions on Aug. 15

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Power Co chairman Chu Wen-chen talks to reporters in Taipei on Sept. 2 about a hackathon hosted by the company.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan Power Co (台電, Taipower) chairman Chu Wen-chen (朱文成) said last week that he does not intend to extend his service at the state-run utility when he turns 65, the legal retirement age, next month. Instead, Chu said he would like to abide by the relevant retirement regulations, resume his position at Tatung University and then retire from the university before February next year.

“I have to return to the school and retire from there, otherwise I cannot get my pension,” Chu said on Thursday at a question-and-answer session at the legislature’s Economics Committee meeting.

Chu was the principal at the university before he was seconded to Taipower in May 2013.

Speculation about Chu’s retirement had swirled for months, especially in the wake of a major blackout that affected millions of households on Aug. 15. The nationwide blackout was later determined to have been caused by human error during the replacement of power supply system components at a natural gas power plant in Taoyuan’s Datan Township (大潭).

Local media reported last month that former vice premier Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) was a potential candidate to take over as Taipower chairman after Chu’s retirement, but Premier William Lai (賴清德) said on Sept. 12 that he hoped Chu would continue to lead the state-run utility after he turns 65.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said at the same session on Thursday that the personnel arrangement regarding the new chairman of Taipower will “become clear” at the end of this month.

Under Chu’s leadership, Taipower swung back to profit last quarter, supported by summer electricity rate hikes amid scorching weather in the past three months, according to company data.

“The pretax profit for last month alone reached more than NT$9 billion [US$296.29 million] on the back of the high electricity demand,” Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) told the Taipei Times.

Taipower reported accumulated pretax losses of NT$7.1 billion in the first half of this year, mainly because of the increasing use of more expensive natural gas for power generation, while reducing the use of cheaper nuclear power, Lin said.

The summer electricity rate hike, which is applicable from June to September every year, already narrowed Taipower’s combined pretax losses to NT$1.5 billion in August, he said.

Thanks to more than NT$9 billion in pretax profit last month, Taipower now has more than NT$7 billion in pretax earnings in the first nine months of this year, he added.

Meanwhile, three other state-run companies — CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), Taiwan Water Corp (Taiwater, 台灣自來水) and Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) — also reported pretax earnings for the first three quarters of this year: NT$34.8 billion for CPC, NT$1.47 billion for Taiwater and NT$2.59 billion for Taisugar.

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