Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) yesterday said that the city government on Wednesday fined Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) NT$2 million (US$67,476) after it restarted its No. 2 coal-fired power generator at the Taichung Power Plant.
The company said it would consider contesting the fine.
On the eve of the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend, Taipower “ambushed” Taichung residents by stealthily restarting the generator, Lu said.
The city government said that the state-run utility’s action contravened the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) and ordered it to shut the generator down.
“Energy consumption in Taiwan is on the rise due to high temperatures. On June 24, the total energy consumption reached 37.17 gigawatts, resetting the record for the eighth time this year,” Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) told reporters in a self-published video.
“Our duty is to maintain and guarantee a steady electricity supply in Taiwan... Why is the Taichung City Government seeking to prevent us” from doing our work? Hsu asked, vowing to protect Taipower employees from threats by the city government.
Taipower would consider appealing the fine if city officials insists it be paid, Hsu said, adding that the Taichung City Government was engaged in unlawful procedures and abuse of power.
The No. 2 generator is operating within the law, Taipower said, citing the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) overturning of sanctions imposed by the Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau, which revoked the operating licenses for its generators.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said that Taipower’s efforts over the past five years to cut coal consumption by up to 5 million tonnes should be applauded and encouraged.
The ministry also commended Taipower’s decision to relaunch the No. 2 generator while its No. 1 generator is being repaired.
The city government in December last year ruled that the power plant had exceeded its emissions cap and revoked the operating licenses for the two generators.
In November last year, it notified Taipower that there had been a mistake on the licenses.
The licenses stated that the plant should cut its use of raw coal by 40 percent “from Jan. 26,” when they should have said “before” that date, it said.
It ruled that the generators were being operated illegally.
Taipower filed a request for the EPA to conduct an administrative remedy.
The EPA overruled the city government’s decision, citing erroneous invocations of the act, which might merit state compensation.
Although the local government appealed the EPA’s decision, that appeal on Wednesday was rejected by the Executive Yuan, which dismissed it as “groundless.”
The EPA yesterday said that the power plant in November last year submitted an application — which is being reviewed — to extend its operating licenses.
Until the review is completed, the plant can continue operating the generators under Article 30 of the act, it said.
The plant’s operation of the No. 2 generator is legal, as it is within the parameters defined by the licenses, it said.
The Taichung Environmental Protection Bureau should not abuse the act and threaten to file a lawsuit against the plant’s supervisor when its operations are legal, it said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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