The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday brought legal charges against Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), accusing the ministry of agreeing to purchase wind power from seven local and foreign firms at a greatly inflated price, which would result in taxpayers losing NT$900 billion (US$29.5 billion).
The ministry, in a first round of tenders, awarded the bid to the seven companies at NT$5.8 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), but in the second round, which began about two months later, accepted offers from other companies to supply wind power at less than half that price — NT$2.5 per kWh, KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) told a news conference.
Lin said he suspected that some parties have raked in an exorbitant profit and called on prosecutors and investigators to investigate the contracting process.
The first bid awarded by the ministry was for 3.83 million gigawatts of wind power over 20 years, which when taking into account the price difference between the two tenders, would translate to a loss of more than NT$900 billion of taxpayers’ money, KMT caucus deputy secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said.
Unlike the second call for bids, the first was an “opaque” selection process, which was “odd,” as government agencies usually hold open bidding to bring down the price when contracting work, before introducing a selection process when subsequently soliciting tenders, he said.
The ministry seemed to be “doing things backwards,” and he suspects misconduct, Tseng said.
It is the KMT caucus’ firm stance that the first bid awarded for the project should be revoked, KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said.
The ministry had “not done its homework” before the first call for bids and was ingratiating itself with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier William Lai (賴清德) by carrying out the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “impractical” energy policy to phase out nuclear energy, while boosting the proportion of renewables to 20 percent in 2025, Lai Shyh-bao said.
Following the news conference, six KMT legislators — Lin, Tseng, Lai Shyh-bao, Alex Fai (費鴻泰), Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) and Yosi Takun — lodged a suit against the ministry at the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office.
Responding on behalf of Shen, Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生) called a news conference and said the price of offshore wind power had gradually risen from NT$4.19 per kWh in 2009 to NT$6.04 per kWh last year, before slightly falling to NT$5.8 per kWh this year.
If the ministry had wanted to benefit companies, why then would it initiate an open bidding process in the second round to drive down costs? he asked.
The government offered to pay NT$5.8 for each kWh of offshore wind power because no contractors were willing to undertake the project at NT$5.7 per kWh, he said.
If the bids awarded in the first-round call for tenders were revoked, it could discourage contractors from the second round and jeopardize the entire project, he said.
The ministry would humbly accept any criticism of its policies, but cannot tolerate unfounded accusations and character assassinations targeting public servants, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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