Tue, May 30, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Electricity rates to rise after 23 years

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Electricity prices will rise on July 1 -- the first time in 23 years -- after the Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday approved tariff adjustment plans submitted by Taiwan Power Co (Taipower).

The ministry convened a special committee to discuss two rate proposals yesterday morning and decided to give the green light to the slightly higher of the proposals, which will impose an average 5.8 percent increase.

The second proposal suggested an increase of 5.62 percent across all industries.

The selected plan proposes that after consumption of 330 kilowatt-hours per month, households will pay 3.12 percent more on average, while commercial users will pay an additional 4.99 percent.

Industrial users, meanwhile, will shoulder a new rate as high as 7.98 percent, regardless of the amount of power consumed.

Because those who use less than 330 kilowatt-hours per month will see no tariff change, around 65 percent of households and 35 percent of commercial users will not be affected, according to Taipower.

The new increments would add 0.116 of a percentage point to growth in the consumer price index and trim 0.081 percent from GDP, the nation's sole utility retailer said.

The new rates will be sent to Minister of Economic Affairs Morgan Hwang (黃營杉) for approval before Taipower formally announces the changes and implements them.

Despite the price rise, the state-owned Taipower said it was still set to post losses of around NT$11.3 billion (US$353 million) this year because of escalating fuel costs.

Next year's losses will probably fall between NT$12.5 billion and NT$17.5 billion, Taipower chairman Edward Chen (陳貴明) told reporters on Monday last week.

Without the hikes, Taipower would have lost more than NT$23 billion this year, he added.

Taipower's net income dipped to NT$1.94 billion last year from NT$7.1 billion a year ago, while operating costs climbed 9.4 percent to NT$346.4 billion, according to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

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