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Quick government response urged in case nuke power project halted

2013/02/25 23:19:00

Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) Taiwan's business community on Monday urged the government to come up with countermeasures to ensure sufficient energy supply in the event that a proposed referendum on halting the construction of a controversial nuclear power plant is approved by voters, amid growing calls to put a stop to the project.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah said earlier on Monday that the government is willing to fix the long-running issue by holding a referendum, hopefully in July or August.

The controversial issue has divided various sectors of society for many years, with no consensus reached.

Chang Pen-tsao, chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the ROC, said as chances are high that construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant could be scrapped if such a referendum were to be held, the government should quickly map out adequate measures to provide local industries with energy at reasonable prices.

"Our chamber supports the building of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, given that as high as 99 percent of Taiwan's energy resources rely on imports," Chang said.

The local industries are not opposed to the goal of making Taiwan a nuclear-free country by 2025 if the government can continue to supply them with affordable energy, Chang explained.

David Hong, president of Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, said it is predictable that electricity rates will go up even if suspending the construction of the plant would not lead to a power shortage.

"Basically, this is a choice between nuclear safety and electricity price," he concluded.

However, state-run Taiwan Power Company warned that the industry- based northern Taiwan would suffer a power shortage if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant were not able to start commercial operations by 2012, when the other three aging nuclear power plants have to suspend operations by their deadlines.

Northern Taiwan consumes 42 percent of the country's power supply, the largest share of any region, Taipower noted, adding that from 2023, a simmering power shortage would affect industries based in that part of the country.

Amid the uncertainty over the fate of the nuclear power plant that is being constructed in Gongliao District in New Taipei City with 95 percent of it completed, industry leaders suggested the use of energy-saving alternatives to save electricity.

Both Everlight Chairman Robert Yeh and Delta Electronic founder Bruce Cheng opined that a widespread use of energy-saving products by the public will definitely save the government the work of building new power plants.

Everlight is a leading LED maker in Taiwan, while Delta Electronics is a top green energy supplier across the world.

(By M. R. Lin and Flor Wang)