The legislature’s Economics Committee yesterday passed resolutions asking Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) to report its spending this year to the National Audit Office for examination and demanding that the company does not use revenue on advertisements to sway public opinion about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮).
Earlier, the legislature had ordered Taipower not to implement the plant’s budget for this year until after the proposed referendum on the power plant, unless the spending is related to safety inspections or construction contracts.
Taipower said yesterday that about 84 percent of its budget of NT$11.7 billion (US$391 million) for the plant this year is related to construction contracts and therefore must be implemented. The comments drew criticism from lawmakers.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said it was unreasonable for Taipower to list public donations as costs related to fulfilling construction contracts.
In response, Taipower chairman Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said the company had paid local residents compensation during the construction of the plant and this was categorized as public donations.
However, he agreed that such practices could be reviewed.
The budget report showed Taipower had spent NT$2.68 million of advertising from January through last month to rebuke an expert’s criticism of the company. The advertisements were deemed unacceptable by several legislators.
US-based electrical power expert Chen Mo-shing (陳謨星) last week accused Taipower of lying about the costs of building the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and disputed the company’s threat about possible increases in the cost of energy if construction of the plant was halted.
“Do you ever think about why the media is willing to report Chen’s statement for free, while Taipower has to pay for the company’s voice to be heard,” DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said yesterday.
The lawmakers’ criticism about Taipower’s budget plan came a day after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) met representatives of Mom Loves Taiwan, an association of mothers established to monitor the use of nuclear power.
Chang yesterday said the meeting on Sunday made the government realize that it should offer more in-depth information about nuclear power to the public.