Tue, Jan 01, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Offshore wind energy companies hope Changhua County acts before rate cut

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Offshore wind energy companies yesterday said that they want the Changhua County Government to oversee the distribution of an incentive program for utilities projects, as the clock runs out for them to sign power purchase contracts before a price cut takes effect on Thursday.

The companies — Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP), Orsted A/S, Northland Power Inc and Yushan Energy Co (玉山能源), and China Steel Corp (中鋼) — said in a joint statement that they unanimously agreed to give the county government full oversight in allocating incentive funds among local fishers’ associations and township agencies.

The county government is the final hurdle before offshore wind energy companies can get the green light to begin construction on six projects in the area, while resistance has been building since the victory of newly elected Changhua County Commissioner Wang Hui-mei (王惠美).

The county’s approval is needed before offshore wind developers can gain the required permits and finalize a purchasing price with state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電).

While the county government has not clearly defined its concerns, local Chinese-language media have reported grumbling over vague promises to local fishers about incentives.

Tax revenue over the life cycle of wind power projects in the area would total more than NT$100 billion (US$3.25 billion), the majority of which would go to the local government, the developers said.

The firms said they would apply for business registration certificates in Changhua County as projects were completed so that they could be added to the local tax base, adding that the Orsted and CIP projects would go online in 2021.

The projects have been greatly affected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ decision to cut the feed-in tariff (FIT) rate from NT$5.8498 per kilowatt hour to NT$5.106 for the next 20 years, they said.

Pundits have claimed that the FIT cut could save Taiwan more than NT$120 billion in procurement costs, but the nation stands to lose much more if projects become infeasible and must be scaled back, they said, adding that it would also put ongoing partnerships with Taiwanese suppliers at risk.

Potential opportunities from offshore wind power projects include the creation of a renewable energy industry, as well as orders and jobs from a new local supply chain, which could also boost the wider services sector, creating new revenue streams from project operations and upkeep, they said.

The firms said they stand behind Wang’s policies and securing the FIT rate before it is cut tomorrow would make them better equipped to help the county develop.

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