Wed, Dec 04, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Minister urges Taichung to rethink power plant threat

By Natasha Li  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin responds to reporters’ questions at the ministry’s auditorium in Taipei yesterday, after the Taichung City Government slapped the city’s power plant, which is operated by state-run Taiwan Power Co, with a NT$3 million fine for excessive coal use.

Photo: Lin Ching-hua, Taipei Times

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) yesterday called on the Taichung City Government to conform to the law after it threatened to revoke up to two of the Taichung Power Plant’s operating licenses due to excessive coal use.

The city government earlier yesterday also fined state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), which operates the power plant, NT$3 million (US$98,338), because the plant has used 11.08 million tonnes of coal since the beginning of this year, exceeding the maximum of 11.04 million tonnes stipulated by the Taichung Autonomous Act for Coal Regulation (台中市管制生煤自治條例).

The city government also demanded improvements from Taipower within 10 days, saying it would revoke the operating licenses for one to two of the plant’s 10 coal-fired generators, if the utility failed to do so.

“Claiming a clerical error [on permits issued in 2017], the Taichung City Government has raised the bar on coal-use standards for Taipower, which does not conform to legal procedures,” Shen told reporters on the sidelines of an awards ceremony at the ministry’s auditorium in Taipei.

Revising a previous request that Taipower reduce its coal use by 40 percent starting from Jan. 26, the city government last month altered the deadline to Jan. 25.

“Electricity [from the Taichung Power Plant] is for everyone’s use ... I hope that the Taichung City Government will stop making things difficult for civil servants, as a steady electricity supply remains the people’s number one priority,” Shen said.

Taipower has reduced coal use by 5 million tonnes over the past few years to reduce air pollution, Shen said, adding that the Taichung plant only contributes to one of the nation’s pollution problems.

While the company has yet to receive an official notice from the city government, Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) told the Taipei Times by telephone that it would appeal the decision.

According to the 2017 permits, the company has the right to use up to 16 million tonnes of coal per year at the Taichung Power Plant, but it would strive to reduce its coal use to less than 13 million tonnes by the end of the year, Hsu said.

“Unfortunately the Taichung City Government has not provided us with any guidelines to further improve on coal use,” Hsu said, adding that the revocation of two operating licenses would lead to a 3 percent decline in Taipower’s energy operating reserve margin.

“By putting a stop to two coal-fired units of 550 megawatts each, we would have trouble maintaining an operating reserve margin above 10 percent, which is much needed in events such as routine inspections, repairs or other emergencies,” he said.

The company would nevertheless strive to lower the plant’s coal use to 12.6 million tonnes for next year, Hsu said.

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