The legislature’s Economics Committee yesterday passed a non-binding resolution demanding that state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) transform the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in Gongliao District (貢寮), New Taipei City (新北市), into a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant.
The resolution, initiated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) to change the plant into a natural gas plant.
Taking lessons from the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the US and last year’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Ting said the power plant should be changed into a thermal power plant as was done to the William H. Zimmer nuclear plant in Moscow, Ohio, in 1991.
Since the plant is only 20km to 30km away from Taipei, Ting emphasized that a nuclear disaster would devastate the nation’s densely populated north.
The controversial nuclear plant has been under construction since 1997 and is a financial burden on the country, Ting said, adding that the government has already poured more than NT$100 billion (US$3.41 billion) into it.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said during the question-and-answer session yesterday that the ministry would need to conduct a thorough assessment of the proposal.
A cost-benefit analysis is required before undertaking the proposal, especially since the cost of generating electricity with nuclear energy is less than NT$2 per kilowatt-hour, about NT$2 less than that with LNG, he said.
Chai Fu-feng (蔡富豐), the chief nuclear energy engineer of Taipower’s power generation department, said it is not feasible to make the conversion.
“Moreover, it will be challenging to build a natural gas pipeline, which will take more than 10 years to complete,” Chai said. “It will cost a lot more to purchase new equipment for the new plant.”
The proposal is to be passed to the legislature for final approval.