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August 22, 2017

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[Updated] Power supply on red alert

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The country's power supply was running an unexpected red alert Friday after peak energy use was more than Taipower had estimated.

An update by the state-run utility showed peak use of 36.417 gigawatts shortly before 2 p.m., exceeding the 36.10 GW expected and representing a slim operating reserve margin of 1.77 percent.

A red alert is in place when the country's operating reserve falls below 900,000 kW. The grid had been running at the next most serious alert – orange – earlier in the day.

The update came after Taipower said earlier in the day that Taiwan would likely avoid a serious power shortage next week, as repair work on a storm-damaged energy tower neared completion.

The utility has been running a worryingly thin operating reserve margin since Typhoon Nesat damaged the transmission tower at Hualien's Hoping power plant late last month, leaving it able to generate power but not to distribute it.

"Work on the tower is going smoothly," Bureau of Energy Secretary-General Lee Chun-li (李君禮) said, adding that it was hoped the plant could start transmitting around 650,000 kW of energy on Monday.

The earliest the tower could return to full capacity was next Friday, Lee said, at which point it would be adding 1.3 million kW to the grid.

Wednesday's launch of a new generator — coal generator No. 1 at Talin Power Plant in Kaohsiung — was proving greatly helpful in avoiding a red alert, he said.

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