Tue, Mar 29, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Electricity rates to be cut on Friday

Staff writer, with CNA

Electricity rates are to be cut by 9.56 percent on Friday as scheduled, Vice Premier Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said yesterday in response to appeals by an aide to president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to delay the move.

The stance of the Executive Yuan is to abide by the law, and it will follow the electricity rate formula passed by the legislature last year, Duh said.

“Unless the legislature reviews the issue or revises formula, the Executive Yuan will follow the decision reached by the Rate Screening Committee on March 15,” he said.

The possibility of delaying the cut was raised after Chang Ching-sen (張景森), executive director of Tsai’s policy office, met with Duh on Friday.

At the meeting, he asked the ministry to put the rate reduction on hold until Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government takes office on May 20, so as to not affect the energy and environmental policies of the new government.

In a post on his Facebook page on Sunday, Chang said that Taiwan relies on imports for its energy needs, and electricity rates should be high, but they are not because the nation uses coal and nuclear plants to generate its electricity.

He said that if the ministry does not postpone the rate and global oil prices start to rise in the second half of the year, electricity rates will certainly rise, which he said would be inflationary.

“Power rate cuts do not lead to drops in commodity prices, but if the electricity rate rises, the prices of goods will rise along with it,” Chang said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Teh-fu (林德福) said he was surprised by the DPP’s position.

He said the DPP in January last year insisted that state-owned Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) come up with a formula to adjust electricity rates systematically and adjust electricity prices every year on April 1 and Oct. 1.

That was why Taipower announced the rate cut, which is to save the more than 13 million power customers in Taiwan a total of NT$56.2 billion (US$1.72 billion) per year, Lin said.

Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) earlier yesterday said that the rate cut would take effect on Friday if the legislature does not pass a new resolution on the issue.

The DPP seemed to give mixed signals on its position.

DPP spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) said the party respected the decision that is to be implemented by the executive branch based on the legislature’s resolution last year.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) did not seem to oppose preserving the scheduled rate cut either, saying that any adjustment of electricity rates should consider energy policy and conservation.

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