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Tue, Nov 30, 1999 - Page 2 News List

Taipower's grid structure must change, experts say

ELECTRICAL POWER Taipower has expressed a willingness to adjust the structure of its existing transmission grid on condition that the government supports efforts to amend power-related policies

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Damage to Taipower's transmission grid caused power outages recently over large areas of the island. Mant people often made the best of things by moving out onto the sidewalk and enjoying a meal by the glow of their car headlights.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, LIBERTY TIMES

Responding to a study released yesterday by the Cabinet-level Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (研|珝|), officials from Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台1q)said the state-run utility would be willing to alter the structure of its existing power transmission grid in order to avoid future blackouts. They said this would be done as soon as a number of the central government's power-related policies were changed.

"We've been frustrated by previous failures to buy land in rural areas suitable for building high-voltage towers. It's difficult to guarantee power supply in such a situation," said Lee Gan-charng (李甘常), Taipower's vice president.

At a draft review meeting on the study held yesterday, commission officials said that in the wake of two islandwide power outage incidents on July 29 and Sept. 21, finding ways to enhance the reliability of the electrical supply has become a priority.

"In Taiwan, the power policy has long focused on power generation rather than electricity transmission. This makes providing reliable power transmission more challenging than elsewhere.

In addition, a commonly seen "not in my backyard" attitude toward public construction makes building high-voltage towers in rural areas more difficult," said the commission's chairman, Wea Chi-lin (魏啟林).

In the study, researchers from the Chung-hua Institute for Economic Research (??華經濟研究院) pointed out the irony of Taipower's policy of transferring power supplies from southern Taiwan to the north (南1q北送). Researchers argued that problems exist in several places, including the maintenance of the electrical system's security, the management of electricity transmission congestion and electricity shortage crises.

"To prevent future islandwide power outages, Taipower should disperse its generating system and adopt alternatives, including portable power generator systems and floating barge generators, both of which have been adopted in other countries where blackouts frequently occur, such as New Zealand and Japan," said George Hsu (3志義), one of the leading researchers behind the study.

However, experts suggested reviewing the existing grid structure first, at least as long as no alternatives are available.

"The existing transmission system is becoming increasingly fragile as demand increases. In engineering terms, I suggest monitoring power transmission at critical locations such as at Lungchi (龍崎), Chungliao (??寮), and Lungtan (龍潭)," said Chen Shih-lin (3?h麟), an electrical engineering professor from National Tsing Hua University.

According to Taipower, the July 29 power outage was the result of the collapse of a high-voltage tower at Lungchi, Tainan County, while the islandwide blackout after the 921 earthquake could be attributed to the shutdown of a transformer station at Chungliao, Nantou County.

The power transmission substation at Lungtan, Taoyuan County currently plays an important role in transmitting power to the north.

In addition, researchers suggest in the study that the government should adjust its existing price policy, as well as the structure of the industry.

"The promotion price for industry is outdated," said Wu Chung-chi (吳忠|N), an economics professor from National Taiwan University, referring to a 30 percent discount price for industry which makes all tax payers share the cost.

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