President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for a national effort on energy conservation following the announcement of his latest electricity rates plan, insisting that energy efficiency and carbon reduction remains a major national policy.
The president promoted government efforts to save energy, and brushed off the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) criticism over his announcement about energy and utility fees saved at the presidential residence.
“We released the information on the electricity and water usage at the presidential residence because a DPP legislator asked for the information, and because some had accused me of forcing others to save energy,” Ma said at a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Central Standing Committee meeting.
“[Energy conservation] is not a personal choice, but a national policy. It’s not a matter of private morality, but public policy. In Taiwan, 99 percent of our energy is imported and energy efficiency is crucial in our daily lives,” he said.
Ma made the comments in response to DPP Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) saying the government was ignoring public grievances over the recent rate and price hikes in electricity and fuel by urging people to save energy instead.
According to the Presidential Office, electricity use in the presidential residence last year decreased by 88 percent, while water use decreased by 75 percent compared with 2007, when then-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in power.
Meanwhile, the committee yesterday invited Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Sheng-chung (林聖忠) to present a report on the government’s efforts in energy conservation and carbon reduction.
The report came one day after Ma announced late on Tuesday that the government would adjust its electricity rate increase policy to be executed in three stages.
The new plan was the center of discussion at the committee meeting, as some committee members expressed concerns about the abrupt change in the policy, which they said could cause confusion among the public.
Ma defended the new plan and said adjusting the electricity rate increase program would reduce the impact on households and industry, while the government’s goal of reflecting reasonable electricity rates would ultimately be achieved.
Under the new plan, electricity prices will increase by 40 percent of the originally planned adjustment on June 10 and another 40 percent on Dec 10. The date for the remaining 20 percent of the rise will depend on whether the public is satisfied with state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) management reform efforts.
The government initially planned to raise electricity rates on all sectors by between 8 percent and 37 percent, effective May 15, to reflect soaring global energy costs and to curb losses at Taipower.