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June 27, 2017

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Dwindling supply of electricity will not affect prices before 2016: Duh

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Although electricity will be in much shorter supply in the future, the government will not raise electricity prices in this year or the next, said Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh Tyzz-Jiun (杜紫軍) yesterday.

Duh said that nuclear power is considered a form of base load power and as such has a relatively lower cost. Now that the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will be sealed temporarily, and with great demand for electricity during the scorching hot summer, the government will have no alternative but to switch to medium load and peak load power sources, such as the natural gas and fuel, which cost NT$3.8 and NT$6 per kWh, respectively.

This year, a steam pipeline malfunction in the Mai-Liao Power Station also resulted in the power station's temporary shutdown. With the island still in great need of electricity during the hot summer, Taiwan Power Company then resorted to a spare gas turbine, which generated electricity at a cost of NT$10 per kWh, to sustain the power supply for a period of time.

As Taiwan's fossil-fuel power stations are set to retire in the near future, and new power stations have yet to become operational, electricity will be in even shorter supply, Duh said, adding that "if the first and second nuclear power plants are to retire as scheduled, the supply will be limited further."

With a smaller electrical supply, the government may in the future establish new regulations placing caps on allowed electricity use, said Duh. Companies may be required to temporarily halt electricity use. Different districts may also have to take turns to undergo electricity rationing in the future.

With a relatively low GDP growth, Taiwan's electricity use is expected to grow 1.47 percent annually. With an idle capacity expected to reach less than 7.5 percent by 2021, the government is likely to implement electricity rationing, based on past experience, Duh said.

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