No plan yet on mothballed nuclear plant debts: Cabinet


CNA

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The government has yet to reach a conclusion about how to deal with Taiwan’s mothballed fourth nuclear power plant or the debts it incurred, said Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) on Tuesday.

While the government remains committed to phasing out nuclear energy and will not open the fourth nuclear power plant, what to do with it has yet to be decided, he said.

Hsu’s remarks came in response to a front page article by the Chinese-language China Times, which reported that the Ministry of Economic Affairs plans to recoup the plant’s NT$283.8 billion (US$9.35 billion) in debts through a long-term electricity price hike.

Household users and major industrial users will have to pay NT$5,600 and NT$7.58 million on average, respectively, over a period of five to 10 years to absorb the costs, according to the report, citing figures from state-run utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower).

Hsu denied, however, that such a plan exists and that no plan has been sent to the Cabinet yet.

Construction of the fourth nuclear power plant was halted in 2014 following anti-nuclear protests around Taiwan, and the nearly completed facility was mothballed.

The original plan to mothball the plant is set to expire in mid-2018, and the government will have to decide what to do with the facility if it does not plan to operate the nuclear reactors.

Taipower is not in a position to absorb the plant’s NT$283.8 billion in debts because it has accumulated debts from its operations of NT$93.2 billion compared with capital of NT$330 billion.

Also responding to the China Times report, Taipower spokesman Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the company has not come up with any of the figures cited in the article, but acknowledged that it is working with the ministry to minimize the impact of dealing with the plant’s debts, ideally by lengthening the period of time they can be amortized.

Lin also said that Taipower will push for the proper use of the power plant’s facilities to achieve the greatest public benefit.