Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) has “deliberately overestimated” the nation’s future electricity demand, while underestimating its overall power supply capacity to fool the public into believing that the suspension of the construction of the Forth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Gongliao District (貢寮) would result in electricity shortage and higher electricity costs, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator said yesterday.
Citing a memorandum on the country’s energy policies and construction and safety of the controversy-plagued power plant published by Taipower in January, DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) said that the state-owned utility has created a false impression that the nation was in desperate need of nuclear energy by purposely lowering its estimates of the country’s power supply capacity.
The memorandum cited three power development plans tendered by the state-owned utility last year — including one marked as No. 10104 Case in April, No. 10106 Case in June and No. 10109 Case in September — which concluded that the nation could see its reserve margin falling below the stipulated 15 percent after next year and could be at a higher risk of power cuts should construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant be halted and the three operating nuclear power plants be decommissioned as scheduled.
The the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Shihmen District (石門) is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2019, with the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) closing in 2023 and the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant in Ma-anshan (馬鞍山), Pingtung County, in 2025.
However, Cheng cast doubt on the three power development plans, whose publications ran counter to the normal practice in which only one such plan was issued each year and all of which he said oddly adopted lower projections for the nation’s power generating capacity in the future.
Such power development plans feature Taipower’s estimates of the nation’s power demand and energy supply capacity in the upcoming 10 to 15 years, based on which the company would then propose a series of energy development plans.
However, as Taipower calculates an electricity generating plant’s power supply capacity by multiplying the plant’s installed capacity, the maximum amount of electricity a station can produce at any given time, by its reliability index, the company’s estimates of the nation’s overall power supply capacity could be questionable, Cheng said.
“Taipower could arbitrarily underestimate the nation’s overall power supply capacity by lowering a specific plant’s installed capacity or reliability index,” Cheng said.
He added that the largest discrepancy between the three power development plans’ estimations of the nation’s total installed capacity was about 4,850 megawatts, close to the three currently operational nuclear power plants’ total capacity of 5,144 megawatts.
Calling on Taipower to refrain from threatening the public and saying that the nation will suffer from power shortages in the absence of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, Cheng urged President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to listen to public opinion and put an immediate halt to the construction of the plant.
Meanwhile, sources close to the issue yesterday said that six engineers from US-based General Electric (GE) are scheduled to join a group of local and foreign experts to assist with safety checks at the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the six individuals are members of a trial-run test group suggested by Lin Tsung-yao (林宗堯), a former member of the Atomic Energy Council’s Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Safety Monitoring Committee.
According to Taipower, there are currently more than 100 foreign engineers working on the construction site of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, including some from GE, which is responsible for the design of the plant.
Minister of Econonmic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) said previously that the test group, comprising of more than 50 local and foreign experts, is expected to be in position by April 2 to conduct the safety checks.
Chang said that after the experts have moved into the plant, it will take about one month for them to confirm all the standard operating procedures.
He said that the safety checks will start in May and will take about six months to complete.
Additional reporting by CNA