Sat, Oct 15, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Nuclear plant to start three years late

POWER DELAY A spokesman from the state power company said the delay would mean higher costs and was a result of the temporary halt in construction in 2000

BLOOMBERG

Taiwan Power Co, which generates about 75 percent of the island's electricity, said today it will complete a nuclear plant three years later than planned because of construction halt that occurred in 2000.

State-run Taiwan Power had planned to bring the first unit of its fourth nuclear power plant on line in July next year and the second one a year later. The facility is designed to have a capacity of 2,700 megawatts, according to company and Bureau of Energy Web sites.

"We'll probably delay the startup to 2009," Clint Chou (周義岳), a public relations officer at the Taipei-based company, said in a phone interview. "The suspension and resumption of construction is a reason."

A delay in the nuclear power plant's operation may boost the island's demand for coal. Plants that burn coal are the most effective way of making up the shortfall in generation because they can operate 24 hours a day, unlike alternatives such as wind or solar power.

President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) government on Oct. 27, 2000 ordered Taiwan Power to suspend construction of the Fourth nuclear Power Project amid opposition from residents near the site.

The country already has three operating nuclear power plants that have a total installed capacity of 5,144 megawatts.

The government reinstated the project in February 2001, after the constitutional court ruled that the decision to halt the project had procedural flaws, because lawmakers weren't consulted.

Taiwan Power, or Taipower as the utility is known, had "problems" securing subcontractors and workers after the halt, which pushed up construction costs, Chou said, without giving an estimate.

The plant was 62 percent complete by the end of last month, with the first reactor installed, according to Chou. General Electric Co is the supplier for the project's two reactors, according to the Bureau of Energy's Web site.

The project was first approved by the government in 1981, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) were in power.

The US$5.6 billion project has been mired in controversy since the 2000 presidential election, which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won.

The DPP government scrapped the partly built nuclear plant without consulting parliament in October 2000, but reinstated the project in February 2001 as a result of public pressure.

The suspension was likely to add an additional US$1.3 billion to the construction costs, officials have said.

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