Sun, Mar 03, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Nuclear Power Debate: Mouse to blame for accidental blackouts: Taipower

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Chen Ching-min  /  Staff reporters

Power outages twice crippled a building housing lawmakers’ offices this week, triggering speculation that Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) was responsible for the blackouts, but the state-owned utility said that mice were to blame.

At about 3:30pm on Tuesday, an explosion was heard in the electricity substation near the legislative building and smoke was seen coming from its engine room, leading to a power failure that lasted for about two hours.

Because of the blackout, a number of legislative assistants closed their offices early, while some continued to work by the weak light generated by backup systems, with no electricity to power computers, fax and copying machines or air-conditioners.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator He Hsin-chun (何欣純) said she had to use a small flashlight to go to the restroom.

The electricity failure occurred as lawmakers were discussing issues related to the controversial Fourth Nuclear Power Plant after opposition lawmakers prevented Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) from delivering his policy address on the first day of the legislative session.

Taipower engineers later determined that a mouse had entered the electricity substation and caused a short circuit which caused the power failure.

After a second blackout the next day, some jokingly speculated over the cause of the power cuts.

“It seems that Taipower are telling us that we cannot carry on working without them,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said.

A legislative assistant said the incidents showed that the Taipower’s infrastructure was so vulnerable that a mouse could disrupt the legislature.

DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said she hoped that it was not a “plot by Taipower to threaten lawmakers.”

“Even if it was, it didn’t work. The blackout didn’t affect me much except that I had to walk up the stairs to my office on the 11th floor,” she said.

In response to the incidents, a Taipower executive said: “the mice were not fed by Taipower,” adding that the company did not intentionally suspend the electricity supply, and urged people to stop making groundless speculations and slandering the firm.

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