Taipei Times/ICRT: Taichung Power Plant faces more fines for coal use

The Taichung City Government again fined the Taichung Power Plant NT$6 million (US$197,909) after it failed to stop using raw coal for power generation, the city said yesterday, but the plant’s owner disputes the rules.

The nation’s largest coal-fired plant was fined NT$3 million by the city on Nov. 3 for exceeding the maximum coal use of 11.04 million tonnes permitted for the year with a warning that it must “make improvements” within 10 days or face additional fines, the city said.

As of Nov. 30, the plant had used 11.13 million tonnes of coal and is continuing to do so, despite warnings, it said, adding that the plant, operated by state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), has until Dec. 23 to make improvements or face further punishments.

The company said it did not exceed the legal limit, as a permit issued by the city in 2017 allowed the plant to burn up to 16 million tonnes of coal a year.

That permit, issued by then-Taichung mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) of the Democratic Progressive Party, limited the plant’s coal consumption for this year to 13 million tonnes.

However, after the election last year of Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), a new annual limit of 11.04 million tonnes was set to quell a public outcry that claimed the plant was the main source of air pollution in the city.

The new limit was decided by the city government on Sept. 20 this year, and a notice of the change sent to the power plant one month later.

Taipower said in a statement that the city government had given it insufficient time to make the necessary adjustments to operations.

NOTE: This is somewhat different than what most media outlets have been reporting in the local press.  According to local press reports the permit issued by the city government contained an error.  This from a December 4 ICRT Report:

  • According to the mayor, any amount burned between now and January 25 will be over the legally mandated amount of 11.04 tons.
  • Taipower disputes this, and has been operating on a different timetable, including last week asking for permission to up the 11.04 ton limit for next year up to 12 million tons.
  • The reason for why the Taichung City Government and Taipower have been operating on different timetables came to light over the last week.
  • It turns out the operations permit documentation presented to Taipower by the city government read “starting from January 26, 2020” the cuts need to be implemented.
  • The city law, however, mandated that the cuts be implemented by January 26, 2020.

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