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Shen'ao power plant negotiations still ongoing: minister

2018/08/02 20:50:03

Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said Thursday that the government will continue to "negotiate" with residents of Rueifang District in New Taipei to dispel their fears about the planned reopening and expansion of a decommissioned coal-fired power plant in the area.

"Our responsibility is to negotiate, negotiate and negotiate with them, with compassion, before going ahead with the plan," Shen said at a news conference, when asked about the government's plans for the controversial Shen'ao Power Plant.

According to local media reports, the Cabinet was considering stopping the expansion work at the plant, pending approval by Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), after the Presidential Office intervened in the matter due to strong public criticism.

The Presidential Office, meanwhile, denied any interference, saying that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) is responsible for making a decision based on its authority and professionalism.

The Cabinet's decision earlier this year to reopen the decommissioned coal-fired plant to cope with growing electricity consumption has been heavily criticized as contrary to the government's environmental and energy policies.

The Shen'ao Power Plant, which began operations in 1960 with three generators that produced 40 megawatts of power, was decommissioned in 2007.

However, to meet power demand in northern Taiwan, Taipower put forth a reopening and expansion project in 2017, which included plans to install two generators that would produce a total 160 megawatts of electricity at the plant.

An environmental impact assessment had been done in 2006 when the Kuomintang government at the time had proposed reopening the Shen'ao Power Plant, but a new assessment was required for Taipower's 2017 proposal.

Since the review in April of the new environmental impact assessment, civic groups have been expressing concern about the effects on the public and the environment if the Shen'ao Power Plant resumes operation.

Meanwhile, on the question of the frequent tripping of the electricity supply this year, Shen said it was not an issue of power generation but rather power distribution.

He said the operating electricity reserve margin will be maintained above 6 percent until the end of the year and will reach the targeted 10 percent in 2019.

The business community can be assured that "there will be no problem of power shortage," Shen said.

(By Liao Yu-yang and Flor Wang)