Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) was behind the refusal of nine independent power producers (IPPs) to renegotiate electricity prices with the state-run company, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers said yesterday.
Four of the nine IPPs — which were slapped with a NT$6.32 billion (US$212.5 million) fine on Wednesday for conspiring to refuse Taipower’s request to renegotiate electricity prices — are subsidiaries of Taiwan Cogeneration Corp (Taiwan Cogen), Taipower’s reinvestment company, TSU caucus whip Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) told a press conference.
Among the 36 board members of the four IPPs, 21 were appointed by the government, including 13 from Taiwan Cogen and four each from the Taiwan Sugar Co (Taisugar) and CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC), which means that Taipower knew that the companies would refuse, Lin said.
The chief executives of the four IPPs — Star Buck Power Corp, Sun Ba Power Corp, Star Energy Power Corp and Kuo Kuang Power Corp — are retired officials from Taipower or CPC.
According to a Fair Trade Commission report, minutes of past meetings showed that the nine companies held at least 20 meetings between August 2008 and October 2010 to discuss electricity prices and colluded to sabotage the negotiation process, TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said.
The commission’s report said that the IPPs, which signed individual contracts to sell electricity to Taipower, renegotiated prices with the state-run energy firm to reflect rising procurement costs in 2007 and 2008, but later turned down Taipower’s request for price adjustments to reflect lower interest rates. The refusal caused Taipower to spend NT$5.9 billion more on electricity purchases from 2007 to 2011.
“Not only was Taipower aware of the refusal, but its representatives participated in the process,” Hsu said.
The collusion may have been initiated by the four IPPs and was likely a coordinated effort between active and retired Taipower officials to gain illegal benefits, he said, adding that the Control Yuan, which said it may launch a probe into the matter, should also investigate officials at Taipower, Taisugar and CPC.