Taiwan’s state-owned energy company Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) on Sunday announced it was expecting only 4% operating energy reserves in early July, at least 6% below the operating reserves usually required to ensure energy security.

Taipower blames extraordinarily high temperatures for the recent spike in power usage. In the past 118 years, only nine days registered temperatures exceeding 37 degrees Celsius; this June alone, seven days exceed 37 degrees, Central News Agency reports.

Last year’s peak energy demand occurred on July 2 with 35.39 million kilowatts. On June 23 this year — the peak so far — demand was 35.2 million kilowatts, which Taipower said was “worrying.”

Taipower’s chief engineer said the utility company could implement demand response strategies and use various pricing mechanisms to decrease energy usage by 900,000 kilowatts.

However, some people don’t buy into Taipower’s claims.

Wang Tu-fa (王塗發), a former president of Taipower and currently a professor of economics at National Taipei University, told the Chinese-language Liberty Times today that Taipower was only experiencing an energy shortage because of poor management and judgment. Wang said Taipower was scaring the public with low energy reserve statistics to push for greater use of nuclear power.

Wang is an appointed member of a project commissioned by the government to investigate whether Taipower’s claims regarding the need to expand its nuclear power output are true.

This crisis comes at a time when public opinion of Taipower is at a low point.

On June 24 an alumnus at National Tsing Hua University’s College of Nuclear Science commented in Apple Daily on what he termed the “opaque nature” of Taipower’s operations. The author said Taipower had a tendency to publish statistics to support its operations but never reveals the process through which it obtained its numbers.

Meanwhile, an article in New Congress alleged that Taipower has historically been a tool for the Kuomintang (KMT) elite to conduct “shady and corrupt” deals “without any regard for the well-being of Taiwanese.” The author called on the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration to reform the state-run company as part of her transitional justice efforts.

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Edward White