Wed, May 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Premier defends nuclear power

HAVING IT BOTH WAYS?The premier said power had to be generated somehow yet the public was refusing nuclear plants and wind turbines are also being resisted

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Premier Jiang Yi-huah, left, and Atomic Energy Council Minister Tsai Chuen-horng answer lawmakers’ questions at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times

People cannot enjoy the convenience of using electricity, but refuse to build power plants, because “electricity cannot be generated out of nothing,” Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday.

Jiang made the comments when questioned on the legislative floor by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧) about the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮).

Chen said that academics at Academia Sinica had launched a petition at the end of last month to call for a referendum to resolve the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant dispute, even though in 2008 the institution had a policy calling for the extension to the service life of the first, second and third nuclear power plants and the establishment of the fourth.

As of yesterday, 48 academics’ signatures had been collected, Chen said.

Academia Sinica president Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), one of the petitioners, said on Monday that the government had not put enough effort into developing alternative, renewable energy over the past 10 years, a move that would have removed the need for today’s nuclear dispute.

In response, Jiang said he could not make corrective remarks about Academia Sinica, given that the research institution is directly answerable to the Presidential Office.

“However, as some academics have voiced different opinions on energy policy, we will look into the matter to see if the research body has changed its previous position,” he said.

Jiang said Academia Sinica’s prior position was one in which nuclear power is one of the country’s prime energy sources.

The premier said the national energy conference due to take place in late August or early September would offer the public an objective assessment about how much renewable energy can be developed by 2025, how the nation’s industries might be affected, how costly electricity prices might become and whether electricity rationing would be required.

Jiang said the conference would help dispel rumors, for instance, about an electricity price cut if nuclear power were discontinued.

This was impossible, he said, as the examples of Japan and Germany have shown.

Underscoring the environmental friendliness of nuclear power compared with that of coal and natural gas, Jiang said that “while having renewable energy as our main energy source is no doubt our ideal, we, like many other countries, have been encountering problems as we push for that policy.”

“The case of Yuanli, where the construction of wind turbines has been strongly protested by locals, is not an exception. We also had plans for wind farms on Penghu to generate power, but not one single county agreed to have the wind farms built on their coast,” he said.

“You cannot generate electricity without power generators,” Jiang added.

On the referendum threshold dispute, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that the UK in 2004 said a 50 percent turnout referendum threshold “[allows] non-voters effectively to veto a yes vote or even a no vote, depending on how one views a threshold.”

The UK called it “a fundamentally undemocratic approach,” Kuan said.

Jiang asked Kuan whether she then supports the UK’s pro-nuclear national energy policy.

Meanwhile, in yesterday’s legislative Procedure Committee meeting, the KMT again obstructed the opposition parties’ motion to place on the meeting schedule for the legislative floor any bills proposing the termination of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant’s construction.

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