Let there be lights: Power restored to Taiwan after massive blackout

After massive blackout struct Taiwan Tuesday afternoon, power was finally restored at 9:40 p.m

Person uses flashlight in tunnel under Songjiang Road during blackout in Taipei. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Power was finally fully restored to Taiwan 9:40 p.m. last night, after a massive blackout struck 6.68 million households in 17 cities and counties across the nation yesterday.

The state-run Taiwan Power Corporation (Taipower, 台電) announced at 9:40 p.m. on Tuesday evening that power rationing had ended and electricity had been fully restored across Taiwan.

Taipower said that at 4:51 p.m., all six units at Taoyuan City's Datan Power Station (Tatan, 大潭電廠) tripped, causing a drop of 4 million kilowatts in the electricity supply. The sudden blackout plunged traffic, shopping malls and offices across Taiwan into chaos. The Datan Power Station is the fourth largest gas-fired power plant in the world, according to power-technology.com. 

Temporary rotational power rationing began at 6 p.m. and meant in practice that if residents were faced with a blackout, power would come back on within the hour, officials said. From 6 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. there were three rounds of rolling blackouts implemented: Round One affected 2.37 million households, Round Two impacted 1.95 million homes, and Round Three hit 2.36 million houses. 

Human error causing a two-minute cutoff in the supply of natural gas to the Datan station by state-owned oil company CPC Corporation, Taiwan was blamed for the incident. Taipei has been battling with at least ten days of consecutive maximum temperatures above 36 degrees Celsius, leading to peaks in power consumption.

Amid the chaos on Tuesday evening, Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung (李世光) apologized to the public and handed in his resignation to Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and the latter accepted it, a Cabinet spokesman announced.

Areas hardest hit by the blackout included the cities of Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan as well as the counties of Miaoli, Nantou, and Chiayi, with a total of 6.8 million households affected. 

A fire broke out at a home in Miaoli after a women used a candle for lighting, resulting in one death and one injury. In Taitung, a 71-year-old woman had to be hospitalized after power to her ventilator was cut off.