Environmentalists yesterday accused Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) of lying when he said the price of electricity might rise by as much as 40 percent if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is not commissioned.
Amid rising public concern over the safety of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, Shih this week said that if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant does not start operations, the price of electricity would soar.
The plant, which is still under construction in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮), has long been controversial because it is close to two other nuclear power plants and to the Taipei metropolitan area.
“What the minister says about electricity prices is not true. He should stop threatening the public,” Wang To-far (王塗發), an economics professor at National Taipei University and long-time environmentalist, told a press conference.
He said that nuclear power is neither safe nor economic.
“Taiwan would not have a power shortage even if it did not have nuclear power plants at all,” he said.
“In 2009, 2010 and 2011, the back-up power generation capacity was 28.1 percent, 23.4 percent and 20.6 percent respectively, while nuclear power plants only provided about 11 percent of the country’s power,” Wang said. “This means that we would still have about 10 percent of back-up capacity without nuclear power, so there would not be a shortage.”
Wang said that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) also lied when it said each unit of electricity from nuclear power only costs NT$0.66.
“According to estimates by the US-based Keystone Center, each unit of electricity from nuclear power costs between NT$2.7 and NT$3.6. How could Taipower make it cheaper than the US, when we have to import everything from overseas?” Wang asked.
Shih Hsin-min (施信民), founding chairman of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, said the cost of nuclear power’s impact on the environment, as well as the possibility of a nuclear disaster, should be taken into consideration, along with the basic economic considerations.
“Even if abolishing nuclear power would lead to an increase in electricity prices, I would still think it is a better deal to keep Taiwan free from worries about a possible nuclear disaster,” he said.