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FTC fines nine electricity suppliers over NT$6 billion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday announced its latest decision to fine nine privately owned electricity suppliers a total of NT$6.007 billion for refusing to cooperate with the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower, 台電) to lower the price of electricity.

This is the third attempt by the FTC to fine the nine electricity suppliers. The commission in March 2013 deemed that the electricity companies violated the Fair Trade Act and issued a total fine of NT$6.32 billion to the nine firms.

The nine companies, however, appealed against the FTC's decision to the Executive Yuan. The Cabinet later revoked the FTC's decision and ordered the commission to issue a new decision over the matter.

The FTC in November 2013 fined the nine companies, ordering them to pay a total of NT$6.05 billion. However, the ruling was appealed by the electricity suppliers again. The Executive Yuan again demanded that the FTC issue a new ruling. The Cabinet said the FTC did not consider every electricity supplier's structure of electricity pricing and their capabilities of profit earning.

The commission yesterday for the third time announced its decision over the issue and reduced the fine from the NT$6.32 billion to NT$6.007 billion.

The FTC said according to its investigation, in order to make a profit, the nine electricity suppliers in 2007 “eagerly” strived for Taipower's consent to reflect the latest fuel costs in its electricity price.

The FTC said, however, that the nine companies privately reached a consensus to refuse to cooperate with Taipower's policy to lower the electricity price even before Taipower held a meeting to discuss the issue.

Noting that the nine companies apparently attempted to regulate the other electricity suppliers' freedom to discuss the electricity price issue with Taipower, the FTC said such an act violated the Fair Trade Act and warrants a heavy punishment.

The nine privately owned electricity suppliers include Formosa Petrochemical Corporation (麥寮汽電股份有限公司), Ho-Ping Power Company (和平電力股份有限公司), Ever Energy Corporation (長生電力股份有限公司) and Taiwan Cogeneration Corporation (星能電力股份有限公司).

The Firms' Responses

The Taiwan Cogeneration Corporation yesterday responded to the FTC's latest ruling, saying that the FTC did not explain why it reduced the total amount of fines levied on the companies, adding that the firm will consult with legal experts before deciding whether or not to file another appeal.

The Formosa Petrochemical Corporation said it does not make sense for the firm to be punished with a fine of NT$1.813 billion, stressing that it did not violate the regulations of the Fair Trade Act.

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