State-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower, 台灣電力公司) proposal to drastically hike electricity prices was blocked yesterday in a meeting arranged by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, giving a brief respite for households and companies.
Taipower needed to adjust the pricing proposal, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) told reporters following a three-hour discussion with representatives of government agencies and private groups.
“There are a lot of concerns and worries about the effect of the price increases on households ,from the representatives of the Consumers’ Foundation in particular,” Lin said.
He said it was difficult to say when the new electricity rates would take effect.
Taipower originally planned to raise electricity rates by nearly 26 percent for households in the main bracket for power consumption, at 330 units to 500 units, which accounts for 67 percent of household users. For these households, the rate would rise NT$0.84 per unit from NT$3.27 per unit, based on Taipower’s plan.
Heavy household users, manufacturers and store owners could expect even bigger price hikes.
To reflect a rise in raw material prices, Taipower planned to raise the electricity price for industrial users by about 60 percent, for power consumed at night or during off-peak hours, once their bill exceeded a certain level.
If the hike had been approved during yesterday’s meeting, the new rates could have taken effect as early as next month.
“We will do the calculation again,” Taipower spokesperson Huang Hui-yu (黃惠予) said by telephone. “However, we are still seeking to determine a reasonable level for electricity charges.”
Huang declined to give a timetable for submitting a new plan.
Taipower said it has lost NT$117.9 billion (US$3.99 billion) as of the end of last year and it expected to lose NT$100 billion, if prices remain unaltered, blaming skyrocketing natural gas, coal and crude oil prices.
The proposed price hikes would help Taipower break even next year and the year after, it said.
Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) chairman Douglas Hsu (徐旭東) told UNIQUE TV (非凡電視台) “the price increase is way too big and will have an adverse impact on local cement companies.”
The group operates a wide range of businesses from cement — Asia Cement Corp (亞泥) — to retail — Far Eastern Department Stores (遠東百貨) and Sogo Department Stores (太平洋百貨).
Michael Liu (劉家豪), assistant vice president of Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓公司), which runs Taipei 101, said the price hike would add NT$19 million to its NT$30 million annual bill.