President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Lin Chuan (林全) yesterday apologized for Tuesday’s massive blackouts, while Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) has been appointed to succeed outgoing Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光).
“On behalf of the government, I apologize for the inconvenience and concerns caused by the power outage. The incident should not have occurred at all,” Tsai said ahead of a Democratic Progressive Party Central Standing Committee meeting.
“Power supply is not simply an issue that affects people’s lives, but is a matter of national security,” she said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
The nation is running on a vulnerable power system that can be easily paralyzed by a natural disaster or human error, so it is the government’s top priority to re-examine and reinforce the nation’s infrastructure to ensure supply stability, but few efforts were made to improve grid reliability over the years, Tsai said.
The government has learned more about the importance of protecting basic infrastructure during a three-day drill this month to test security for political and military leaders in an emergency, and she ordered the government to reform the security measures of basic infrastructure to prepare for conflict scenarios, Tsai said.
“The outage tells us that improving grid security and building a distributed, renewable generation system is urgent and correct,” Tsai said, reaffirming the energy transition objectives of her administration.
Meanwhile, Lin also delivered an apology in an Executive Yuan news conference and announced that Shen has been named acting minister after Lee tendered his resignation immediately after the blackouts.
Shen had also tendered his resignation, but it was decided that he should stay and lead the ministry through the transition period, Lin said.
“The incident was caused purely by human error. It is apparent there are grave mistakes with our management system,” Lin said.
“The blackouts, preceded by the shutdown of Ho-Ping Power Plant [in Hualien] due to a typhoon, should not be considered an isolated incident. The whole series of events necessitates a complete re-examination of the nation’s power supply structure,” Lin said.
The Cabinet is to form an external task force to investigate state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), whose mismanagement of a natural gas supply system appeared to have caused the power disruption, and Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電), Lin said.
The task force, which would likely consist of international specialists, would examine the national power system and put forward improvement proposals.
While the nation has to move toward a decentralized power distribution system, a secondary, supportive system is needed for major power plants to ensure power grid stability, Lin said.
During the three-day drill, it was found that the infrastructure security measures were “very vulnerable” and could not cope with emergency situations, Lin said.
There is no evidence to suggest the power disruption was deliberately caused, but the government has to prepare for intentional or terrorist attempts to damage power infrastructure, he said.
The phase-out of nuclear power has no bearing on the power outage, because the incident caused the grid to lose about 15 percent of the total supply, which is more than the nation’s nuclear capacity.
“The incident is an issue of power grid stability and has nothing to do with nuclear power. They should not be lumped together to obscure the points,” he said.
Lawmakers have demanded Lin make a formal report at the Legislative Yuan about the power outage, which Lin said he was willing to do.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut