Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Stopping work on nuclear plant would affect economic growth, think tank says

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan’s economic growth will be affected if construction of the country’s controversial fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) is terminated, a local think tank said yesterday.

Taiwan Research Institute president Wu Tsai-yi (吳再益) said Taiwan’s real GDP in 2018 will decrease by 0.43 percent, or about NT$78 billion (US$2.6 billion), and 11,000 jobs would be lost, if the project is aborted.

The estimates were based on a projection that the government would replace nuclear power with other types of energy, which would result in a 14.14 percent increase in the cost of electricity to NT$0.36 per unit, Wu said. In turn, that would cause a 0.3 percent hike in overall production costs in the manufacturing sector, he said at a local seminar to discuss the impact of aborting the new plant’s construction.

In addition, the researcher said scrapping the plant would reduce the nation’s power reserve margin from 17.9 percent of total capacity this year to only 5.3 percent in 2018, raising the risk of power shortages in northern Taiwan. That would seriously affect the daily lives of people in northern Taiwan because the area’s mass transportation systems, including the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, are largely powered by electricity, Wu said.

The fourth nuclear power plant has been plagued by delays since construction began in 1999. Earlier this year, the Cabinet proposed putting the plant’s fate to a referendum amid nuclear safety concerns that have grown since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in March 2011.

The Legislative Yuan decided during a consultation among party caucuses earlier this week to hold a provisional session to discuss 19 bills between the following day and Aug. 9, including one on holding a referendum on the fate of the controversial fourth nuclear power plant.

If passed, the referendum is likely to be held by the end of this year to determine the future of the nuclear power plant.

Several environmental groups have urged the public to tell the Legislative Yuan not to approve the proposed referendum on the fate of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.

If the KMT’s referendum proposal is approved by the legislature, voters would be asked: “Do you agree that the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant should be halted and that it not become operational?”

The KMT’s question was politically calculated and tramples over the principles of direct democracy and responsible politics, because if it fails, the government would have grounds to continue the construction of the plant, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.

According to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池), the party was determined that the proposal pass and any KMT member who voted against it would be liable to be disciplined by party headquarters.

Democratic Progressive Party caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the party would do whatever it could to block the KMT if it made a unilateral move, which would “make things turn ugly on Friday.”

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