Taipei, June 26 (CNA) The Taichung City government on Friday threatened legal action and another hefty fine against the state-owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) over its decision to restart a coal-powered generator at its plant in the city. The statement followed a decision by the city government Thursday to fine the power plant NT$2 million (US$67,751), after it resumed operations the previous day of its coal-burning No. 2 generator at its Taichung Power Plant, in what the city said was an unauthorized move. Taipower, however, has said its decision was well within the law and was necessary, as energy demand nationwide was entering the peak summer period.
The conflict stemmed from a controversy earlier this year, when the central government overturned a decision by the Taichung government to revoke the permits for the use the No. 2 and 3 generators at Taipower’s Taichung plant, which currently has 10 coal-powered generators. The city government subsequently filed an administrative appeal against the decision, and Taipower closed the two generators. On Wednesday, Taipower started testing the No. 2 generator, which prompted an inspection by officials from the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau, after which the city government on Thursday slapped a NT$2 million (US$67,751) fine on the plant for operating the generator without a permit. According to Taipower’s website, the No. 2 generator was up and running on Thursday and had reached about 10 percent capacity in the afternoon.
In a statement Friday, the city government said it would obtain more evidence next week that would allow a fine of NT$8 million to NT$20 million against Taipower, and it also threatened legal action against company executives under the Air Pollution Control Act. Taipower, meanwhile, has argued that its permits for the operation of the No. 2 and 3 generators at its Taichung plant remain valid, pending the outcome of the city government’s appeal against the central government’s decision to allow their continued operation. Taichung and other parts of central Taiwan have been plagued by serious air pollution for many years, and successive city administrations have tried to limit the emissions from the coal-fired plant, which is seen as major contributor to the problem. When the Taichung City government revoked the permits for two of the 10 generators at the plant, it said their use of coal was over the legal limit.