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No electricity hikes planned in '14: Duh

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) does not have any plan to adjust electricity prices next year, Vice Economic Affairs Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun said Monday.

Fielding questions at a Legislative Yuan committee hearing on whether domestic electricity prices are reasonable at present, Duh said prices have been consistently lower than electricity generation costs.

“Nevertheless, the ministry has no plan to raise electricity prices in the coming year,” Duh assured lawmakers.

The government has approved two power price increases by state-owned Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) in the past 18 months, both times amid staunch opposition, to try to bring the prices paid by utility users more in line with costs.

The most recent increase came in October, when electricity prices were raised for big power users — mid-sized to large businesses and industrial consumers in particular.

Duh said the only variable that could affect domestic energy prices in 2014 would be whether a renewable energy surcharge would be introduced.

Under the Statute for Renewable Energy Development, Taipower can collect a renewable energy surcharge to cover the spread between its renewable energy purchase price and the selling price.

“The price difference is less than NT$0.1 per kilowatt hour, so Taipower has never collected a renewable energy surcharge. But the accumulated difference has been growing, and we are evaluating whether to begin levying the surcharge next year and whether it would be retroactive,” Duh said.

He added that no decision on the issue has been reached.

Asked by opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh when Taiwan could become a nuclear-free homeland, Duh said 2050 could be a possible target because alterative energy technologies are expected to have matured by then.

For instance, Duh said, geothermal energy development technology is expected to mature around 2030. “After such technology is introduced into Taiwan, we may be able to realize the nuclear-free homeland goal,” Duh said.

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