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Taichung Power Plant fined for exceeding coal consumption limit

2019/12/03 21:43

CNA File Photo

Taipei, Dec. 3 (CNA) The Taichung City government has imposed a fine of NT$3 million (US$98,300) on a power plant in the city for using more coal this year than allowed, Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said Tuesday.

The coal-fired Taichung Power Plant, one of the largest of its kind in the world, had consumed 11.08 million tonnes of coal as of Nov. 27, exceeding the annual limit of 11.04 million tonnes set by the city government, Lu said.

The plant, which is operated by the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), must "make some improvements" within 10 days or face further consequences, including the revocation of one or two of its permits to run its 10 coal-fired generators, the mayor said.

In response, Taipower spokesman Hsu Tsao-hua (徐造華) said in a statement that he was at a loss to understand how the plant could make improvements since it had already exceeded the city government's limit for annual coal consumption.

Hsu also said that a permit issued by the city government in 2017 allowed the plant to burn up to 16 million tonnes of coal a year and reduce its consumption by 3 million tonnes in 2019.

Under the terms of that permit, which was issued by former Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Taichung Power Plant's coal consumption was limited to 13 million tonnes for 2019, Hsu said.

However, after Lu of the opposition Kuomintang was elected mayor in 2018, a new consumption limit of 11.04 million tonnes was set, amid public opinion that the plant was the main source of air pollution in the city.

The new annual limit was decided by the city government on Sept. 20 this year, and a notice of the change was sent to the Taichung Power Plant one month later.

In a statement, Taipower said it expects the Taichung City government "to govern based on the law."

Commenting on the issue, Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said the fine against the Taichung Power Plant was illegal, and Taipower would consider seeking legal recourse.

Also on Tuesday, Lu and six other local government leaders issued a joint statement in protest against a directive from the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), which allows a 10 percent margin for coal consumption limits at the Taichung Power Plant.

The EPA directive, issued in November, allows the plant to burn a maximum 12.14 million tonnes of coal a year, instead of the 11.04 million tonnes set by the Taichung City government, Lu said.

Changhua County Magistrate Wang Hui-mei (王惠美), who also signed the statement, questioned why the Taichung plant needed an additional 10 percent margin of coal consumption if there was no shortage of electricity in the country as President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has insisted.

The other local government heads who endorsed the statement were Nantou County Magistrate Lin Ming-chen (林明溱), Hsinchu County Magistrate Yang Wen-ke (楊文科), Yunlin County Magistrate Chang Li-shan (張麗善), Miaoli County Deputy Magistrate Teng Kuei-chu (鄧桂菊), and Chiayi City Deputy Mayor Chen Shu-hui (陳淑慧).

They urged the central government to take seriously their call for a reduction of coal consumption at power plants, as part of an effort to improve the air quality in Taiwan.

(By Hao Hsueh-chin, Tsai Peng-min and Elizabeth Hsu)Enditem/pc