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Taiwan restoring power after outage that hit 5 million homes

It was not immediately clear what caused the cut, which affected about a third of the island’s electricity supply.
Images Of The Economy Ahead Of Taiwan's September Unemployment Rate Release
The cut affected about a third of Taiwan’s power supply, hitting about 5 million households.Lam Yik Fei / Bloomberg via Getty Images file
/ Source: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan is gradually restoring power supply, the state-run power operator said on Thursday, after much of the island’s south and 5 million households were hit by an outage caused by a malfunction at a major power generation plant.

Hydro and other power plants are being brought online to provide electricity, said Taipower, which blamed a problem with a transformer at the Hsinta power plant in the southern city of Kaohsiung for a trip at an ultra-high-voltage substation.

The major coal-fired station provides about a seventh of Taiwan’s power.

“I am very sorry for this major loss of electricity, and am extremely apologetic for the inconvenience caused, especially for the south,” Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters.

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Asked whether the plant had been hacked, cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said authorities could not rule out any cause.

“It all needs further proof and investigation, which requires evidence.”

The cut affected about a third of Taiwan’s power supply, hitting about 5 million households, Wang said.

Power should start being restored in southern Taiwan from midday, she added, although it was not immediately clear what caused the problem.

Back-up power supply was at 24 percent at the time of the incident, Wang said, adding that it was not set off by insufficient supply, the root cause of major outages in May, when Taiwan was grappling with drought.

The Hsinchu science park, home to many large semiconductor companies such as TSMC, said it did not suffer outages.

But the southern Tainan Science Park, where TSMC also has plants, said it experienced a sudden drop of voltage in the morning that did not affect production.

TSMC said “power dips” at some of its fabs ran from about 400 milliseconds to more than a second.

“The company is now checking if there is any actual impact,” it added.

Some parts of northern Taiwan, including the capital, Taipei, also lost power. President Tsai Ing-wen has ordered an investigation and restoration of power as soon as possible, her office said.

A livestream of Tsai’s meeting with the visiting former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Taipei has been canceled, it added.

Normal service has resumed on the high-speed rail line between north and south after three trains were affected, the transport ministry said.

After last year’s two major outages brought criticism for the government, Tsai has vowed to scrutinize electricity management.