Government to keep electricity rate at current level

09/14/2020 11:07 PM
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CNA photo Sept. 14, 2020
CNA photo Sept. 14, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) decided Monday to keep Taiwan's basic electricity rate at the current price of NT$2.6253 (US$0.089) per kilowatt-hour (kWh), marking the fifth consecutive time the MOEA has decided to keep the rate unchanged.

The decision was made by the Electricity Tariff Review Committee under the MOEA, which meets twice a year to review electricity rates and change them if deemed necessary.

The last time the electricity rate was changed was in April of 2018, when it was increased from NT$2.5488 per kWh to the current price of NT$2.6253 per kWh .

According to the MOEA, even though international fuel prices are relatively low, the committee decided against lowering electricity rates due to fuel price projections and rising costs related to nuclear power plants.

Electricity rates are primarily determined by fuel prices, which are expected to go up next year, said Deputy Economics Minister Tseng Wen-sheng (曾文生).

Citing predictions made by the United States' Energy Information Administration (EIA), Tseng said that fuel prices are expected to rise to US$50 per barrel in 2021, up from US$42 per barrel this year.

Another factor are costs related to the "back-end" management of nuclear power plants, which mostly involves the transportation and disposal of nuclear waste, the MOEA said.

In 2008, this was estimated to cost Taiwan a total of NT$335.3 billion, but was raised to NT$472.9 billion after a review in 2017, the MOEA said.

As a result, state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) will have to inject NT$24.2 billion this year into the government fund dedicated to nuclear back-end management, which is a huge cost in the company's operations, the MOEA said.

In view of these factors, the committee decided against adjusting electricity rates during their biannual meeting, the MOEA said.

If Taipower ends up making more than a reasonable profit, the extra money will go toward the stabilization of electricity rates in the future, the MOEA said.

Regarding the government's electricity bill subsidy program for certain businesses struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOEA said it has cost NT$19 billion as of Sept. 10.

The government has so far budgeted NT$6 billion for the program, the MOEA said, and if the budget falls short, the cost of the program will be considered the next time electricity rates are reviewed, in the first half of next year.

(By Yang Shu-ching, Liang Pei-chi and Chiang Yi-ching)

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