ELECTRICITY CRISIS!!!!!

So the country’s electricity reserves are dangerously low because an accident at the 3rd nuclear power plant in Pingtung required Taipower to shut down one of the reactors. So now Taipower is blackmailing the population with the threat of electricity rationing in a last-ditch attempt to open the 4th nuclear power plant.

Let’s see. Taipower’s strategy for the last two decades has been entirely concentrated on one thing: building the 4th nuclear power plant. The construction project has been plagued by delays, cost overruns, and quality control problems. Taipower has steadfastly refused to develop a Plan B. Meanwhile, the three existing nuclear power plants have all had numerous safety problems. Clearly, there is only one way out of this mess: we must let Taipower have more nuclear power to mismanage!

No, the answer is that Taipower needs a thorough overhaul from top to bottom. The senior management should all be replaced, operating procedures should be carefully reviewed, and, most importantly, the country’s energy policy must be completely rewritten. Taipower is a rotten organization pursuing a flawed energy strategy. The current government shows no sign of being able to – or even wishing to – take on the entrenched interests standing in the way of fundamental reform. There is no guarantee that a President Tsai would be able to institute fundamental reform, but you can be pretty sure that no real changes will occur if the KMT stays in power.

10 Responses to “ELECTRICITY CRISIS!!!!!”

  1. Mark S. Says:

    Shortly after his election in 2000, President Chen shut down construction of the fourth nuclear plant, which was a campaign promise. The KMT-controlled Legislative Yuan responded by launching into an extreme hissy-fit. The Constitutional Court sided with the legislature, and construction resumed. (No points for guessing which party had controlled all appointments to that court.) So with that judicial precedent there’s little chance a new DPP administration would be able to do a damn thing about this if the legislature doesn’t undergo a fundamental shift.

  2. Guy Beauregard Says:

    An amazing post. From its racist policy of dumping its low-level nuclear waste on Lanyu, to its persistent targeting of other aboriginal communities for a new waste site (I’m thinking here of Daren in Taitung County), to its gross mismanagement of Nuclear Power Plant Four–in all these cases, upper level management at Taipower Corporation has acted in a blinkered and utterly unacceptable way. I applaud your call for new management. But for things to really change, we’ll need an overhauled energy policy and an industrial policy that stops subsidizing the energy hogs like petroleum, plastics, and the like. There’ll be lots of challenges for the next administration, but these issues have got to be a priority.

    Guy

  3. Fred Says:

    I had enough power today, as did the factories where my friends work, as did Sogo, as did everybody. There is no shortage even with that reactor closed. There is a shortage of construction kickbacks for the politicians and beaurocrats.

  4. Carlos Says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen you write so directly about how you feel!

    Despite being pan-Green I’m not really opposed to nuclear power and would rather see the large coal plants shut down first – and of all the nuclear power plants I would trust the newest one the most. But given public opposition to them, this is an ugly move. A Taipower overhaul would be a great thing.

    • frozengarlic Says:

      In theory, I’m on the fence concerning nuclear power. However, I am absolutely against nuclear power operated by Taipower. I have almost zero faith in that company, so I am willing to trade higher carbon outputs for a lower probability of a full-scale disaster.

      And yes, I am angry.

    • Fridolin Groenemeyer Says:

      I’m not necessarily opposed to nuclear power, but Taiwan has no place to safely store the spent fuel which has already accumulated and no realistic chance to find such a place.

      Apart from that, plant 4 is designed to earthquake resistance standards which would not be considered sufficient in Western countries. And it’s in one of the worst imaginable places, maximizing the potential damage from a problem and maximizing the exposure to natural disasters at the same time.

      • Carlos Says:

        While I haven’t worked directly on any nuclear power plants in Taiwan, I’ve seen some of the seismic design criteria for the Lungmen plant (I’m a structural engineer in California, and I mostly work on university and hospital buildings). The equipment within the plant is American in origin, so they use US NRC design criteria. I feel comfortable with that. The plant itself would have been designed per local codes; I’m not very familiar with them but I know enough to be pretty comfortable with them, too.

        I’m not saying the plant’s a great idea – there’s plenty that could go wrong in its emergency planning, or in its construction, or maybe the geotechnical engineers got the design basis earthquake wrong. But I wouldn’t point to the standards as the problem.

      • frozengarlic Says:

        One of the stories I have heard is that the plant indeed started life as an off-the-shelf design from GE. However, Taipower wanted a trophy project and redesigned enough things that GE eventually withdrew from the whole project, since they didn’t want to be associated with a project that they couldn’t be sure about.

        Is this story true? I really don’t know. I just know that these little nagging stories keep popping up in everything related to Taipower. Eventually you stop dismissing them as mere rumor and innuendo.

  5. Brido Says:

    Out of curiosity, what are the alternatives? Looking around, it seems a given that asking the population to lower energy consumption is only a credible policy for parties looking to avoid being elected. Can Taiwan import electricity at all or is domestically-generated the only option?

    • frozengarlic Says:

      It’s a fair question. I’m a politics guy, not a policy guy, so I’m not really qualified to give an authoritative and comprehensive answer. I don’t think importing electricity is practical. I do think there are a few ways to cut consumption and increase production, though they would require Taipower to change its corporate culture and think creatively. I do not know if they would be sufficient to meet Taiwan’s energy needs. One of the problems with not trusting Taipower is that if you ignore the source with all the information (because you suspect they will deliberately mislead you), you don’t have much information to base your strategy on.

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