Tue, Sep 29, 2009 - Page 4 News List

No. 4 nuclear plant delayed: Taipower

LATE AND OVER BUDGET The state-run company said it would need NT$40.2 billion more in the face of rising material costs and additional test runs to ensure security

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will not be ready for commercial operations until late 2011, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) said yesterday.

Taipower chairman Chen Kuei-ming (陳貴明) made the announcement after local media reported yesterday that the project was behind schedule and had incurred a cost overrun of about NT$40.2 billion (US$1.24 billion).

Chen said the company had submitted a report to the Executive Yuan early this year detailing its revised construction schedule and budget estimate because of raw material price hikes and additional test runs amid security concerns.

“The Executive Yuan endorsed the new schedule on Sept. 18,” Chen said.

Taipower stated in the report that the inauguration of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant's first generator would be deferred for 29 months for two reasons.

First, the main contractors have had encountered a number of problems, including financial difficulties, short supply of gravel, higher building material costs and a labor shortage, the report said. It said these problems would result in a 23-month delay in construction.

Second, to allay security concerns, the company decided to extend test runs by six months — three more months for overall trial runs and three months for startup tests.

As a result, the report said, the commercial operation of the first generator would be postponed to Dec. 15, 2011, and the second generator to Dec. 15, 2012.

The delay will require an estimated additional NT$40 billion in capital, raising the total cost of construction from NT$233.5 billion to NT$273.5 billion, Chen said.

Asked whether the delay would affect domestic power supply, Chen said: “Definitely not.”

As Taipower’s reserved generation capacity has remained above 16 percent in recent years, Chen said power shortages would not occur in the foreseeable future.

Construction of the power plant has triggered strong protests from anti-nuclear activists and residents living in the vicinity of the power plant in Gongliao, Taipei County.

During the Democratic Progressive Party administration, construction was temporarily suspended in 2000 in line with then-president Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) campaign promise to create a nuclear-free Taiwan.

However, the suspension was lifted in early 2001 after the administration came under pressure from the legislature and some segments of society. A consensus was reached that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant would be the last one.

Taipower said construction was 90.77 percent complete as of the end of last month.

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