Taipower blames subcontractor

UTILITIES: An official from Tawan Power Co said that a subcontractor working for the state-run company had `misread' blueprints, leading to a power outage at TSMC

By Richard Dobson and Elaine Lee  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Tue, Feb 13, 2001 - Page 17

Poor communications between the Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) and one of its subcontractors led to the severance of a buried power line feeding power to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufac-turing Co's (台積電第八晶圓廠) Fab 8 in the nation's main high-tech science park, according to Taipower officials.

Taipower confirmed the error yesterday saying the blueprints for the construction were "misread" by their subcontractors, who accidentally severed the power line between cogenerator Hsin Yu Energy Development Co (新宇汽電共生) and TSMC on Saturday in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區).

Chang Hsien-chang (張憲章), deputy manager of Taipower's Central Region Construction Office (中區施工處), said "our subcontractor misread the planned route ... and then dug in the wrong place." Ho Chun-jen (何存仁), vice president of Hsin Yu blamed the accident on a breakdown of communication, saying Taipower's contractor Chung Chi Construction Co (中基) had been excluded from meetings concerning the construction of a new double-loop power distribution system for the park.

"Communication between Hsing Yu and Taipower is generally good, but in this instance the subcontractors that were carrying out the operation weren't properly informed," Ho said.

"The mistake was not by Taipower but its subcontractor ... All parties need to work together to reduce these kinds of acci-dents," he said in an effort to deflect responsibility for the incident.

Hsin Yu is currently the only private cogenerator in the park and operates one 165-megawatt, gas-fired power plant with another 232-megawatt plant in the planning stage. Other customers include United Microelectronics Corp (聯電) and Powerchip Semiconductor Corp (力晶半導體).

Better communications between high-tech companies in the park, Taipower and the park's administration was suggested recently by the Energy Commission (能委會) as a way to strengthen management of construction and lower the number of power out-ages in the park.

The advice was intended for consideration after construction of the 161-kilovolt double-loop distribution system in the park's Area 3 had been completed in August.

"After all power supply lines are buried, the details of all planned construction work in the park should be forwarded to Taipower by the park's administration in advance to minimize the chances of workers cutting existing lines," the commission's report said.

It is hoped that construction of the double-loop system will boost the quality of the park's power supply network.

Hsin Yu said that if it is proven that the subcontractors were at fault then they would follow TSMC's example and seek compensation for the damage.

Taipower executives said that it would only pay up if was found to be directly at fault. If the subcontractor was proven to have been at fault, then any compensation should be shouldered by them, Taipower officials believe.

Meanwhile, TSMC yesterday said it had yet to come up with a figure for losses incurred as a result of the seven-hour power outage. But local media has put losses for the company, Taiwan's largest semiconductor foundry, at more than NT$100 million.