Lawmaker alleges Taipower scam

The China Post staff

An opposition lawmaker yesterday alleged that some employees of the state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) could have colluded with outside parties to profit from “electricity theft” cases. He also wanted Taipower’s chairman to investigate into possible underreport the amount of the involved cash awards. Legislator Chou Hsi-wei of the People First Party (PFP) held a press conference to voice allegations that Taipower employees have been falsely whistleblowing over the alleged stealing of electricity from the company. Chou said the employees inform their superiors of a theft who then make a formal report. Twenty percent of the stolen power bill is offered as incentive for their discovery. The money is usually split among the Taipower employees and other parties involved. One kind of arrangement is that certain companies selling and installing “power-saving instruments,” help unscrupulous Taipower employees discover “power-stealing” with both sharing their portion of the recovered bill, according to Chou. The PFP lawmaker noted that over 30 or 40 power theft cases are reported each year. Without tips from Taipower employees, Chou said, there is no way so many electricity stealing cases could be uncovered. He also said Taipower should improve its handling of the alleged power theft cases to allow petitions from people accused of stealing the company’s electricity.

A man appearing at the same press conference had previously been slapped with a NT$2.3 million fine by Taipower for stealing electricity. But the man, surname Tseng, said the company took only their own one-sided view and never gave him a chance to present his case. Chou estimated that the stolen electricity is valued at NT$2.6 billion a year, but the company is able to recover only over NT$760 million.

He said Taipower chairman Lin Neng-pai should conduct a probe within one month and give a report to the Economic Committee of the Legislative Yuan. He said Taipower should also retract its annual budget plans and make revisions according to the more accurate data. Taipower is also one of several state firms involved in allegedly bribing local governments in whose administrative areas Taipower has power-generating, transmission or business operations.