Wed, May 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Economics minister should resign over rate hikes: activists

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Environmentalists staged a protest in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday, calling on Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) to step down if he could not stop power rates from rising.

The second stage of a government plan to raise electricity rates is scheduled to take effect in October. Chang has not yielded to lawmakers’ suggestion to postpone the plan.

At a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee on Monday, Chang said that the power rate hike in October would save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

He added that about 67 percent of general households and 33 percent of small companies would not be affected by the rate increase.

Kao Cheng-yan (高成炎), a National Taiwan University professor and member of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, yesterday said that a representative of a foreign energy company who visited Taiwan in March has said it can sell Taiwan natural gas at a reasonable price.

If Taiwan Power Co accepted the company’s offer, it could lower its power generation cost from natural gas to about NT$3.5 per kilowatt-hour — instead of the company’s claim that it costs NT$5.7 per kilowatt-hour to generate electricity from the same source, Kao said.

Nuclear-Free Homeland Alliance executive director Lee Cho-han (李卓翰) said that nuclear power is the most expensive source of energy, both in terms of economic cost and social cost, but the government tends to overestimate the cost of electricity from natural gas or other renewable energies.

Lee said the government should conduct a thorough investigation of energy waste in the country and enforce energy-saving methods that could reduce total electricity consumption by 39 percent, based on the National Science Council’s National Science and Technology Program on Energy.

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