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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Taiwan Power Delays New Nuclear Plant Launch, Seeks More Funds


TAIPEI -(Dow Jones)- Government-owned monopoly utility Taiwan Power Co. has to delay the start of commercial operations at its No. 4 nuclear power plant by two years to 2011 and ask the government for more funds, company spokeswoman Tu Yueh-Yuan said Wednesday.

The plant has been plagued by construction delays, soaring raw material prices, and at one point, a decision by the previous administration to halt construction altogether because of its "nuclear-free homeland" policy.

The budget for the No. 4 plant's two units was originally NT$233.55 billion ( US$6.77 billion), but now Taiwan Power wants to ask the government for about NT$ 40 billion more, said Tu.

"We need more funds mainly because of rising construction costs and the depreciating Taiwan dollar," said Tu.

The figures are not final, as the final new budget must be approved by the government, she said.

Taiwan Power operates three nuclear reactors with a total of six power generating units and a capacity of 5,144 megawatts, or 13.1% of its total installed capacity.

The No. 4 nuclear power plant, built in Lungmen, Taipei County, will operate two units with a planned capacity of 2,700 MW.

Commercial operations at the no. 1 unit are now planned to start in December 2011 instead of July 2009, while trial operations may start in late 2010, said Tu.

"The control and information system will be installed much later than we expected, which is the cause of the delay," said Tu, adding the No. 2 unit will likely start commercial operations one year after the first one.

The Lungmen plant will be connected to the grid already during trial operations, but electricity supply won't be stable because of the testing done during the period, she said.

-By Alex Pevzner, Dow Jones Newswires; 8862-2502-2557; alex.pevzner@ dowjones.com

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