Taiwan power resumes after outage, TSMC hit by brief dip

A woman uses her phone while experiencing a blackout due to an outage at a power plant, in Taipei, Taiwan, May 13, 2021. REUTER/Ann Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Tech powerhouse Taiwan resumed power early in the evening on Thursday following several hours of phased blackouts islandwide, a problem that briefly impacted major semiconductor firm TSMC.

Around 4 million homes were affected on the island of 24 million people after an outage at a coal- and gas-fired power plant that was connected to a failure of the electricity grid.

The world's biggest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, said some of its facilities suffered a "brief power dip", but power had been restored.

Officials at three major science parks in Hsinchu, Tainan and Taichung, where TSMC and other semiconductor firms all have large operations, told Reuters there was no impact on the operations of the major chipmakers.

Normal power was restored at 8 p.m. (1200GMT), electricity provided Taipower said, with supplies having been affected from early afternoon.

Speaking to reporters at the presidential office, President Tsai Ing-wen apologised for the blackouts, which left hundreds trapped in elevators across Taiwan.

"Power plants were running normally. This was not a problem with the plants. The cause of the incident was the power grid," she said.

"This highlights the importance of the balance of Taiwan's regional power supply and highlights the importance of risk management of the grid."

In a text message just before the power failed around 3 p.m. (0700 GMT), the government said its grid did not have sufficient electricity capacity after the outage at the power plant in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.

Several cities reported blackouts, as a top official appealed for calm.

"The government has a grasp of the situation," cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told reporters. "Citizens please remain calm and there's no need for panic."

Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said around 4 million homes were affected.

The main international airport near Taipei, the capital, and the high speed rail line were operating normally, the transport ministry said.

Fire officials said they had rescued more than 400 people trapped in elevators, many of them in northern Taiwan.

Power went on and off intermittently in central Taipei, though it never totally went out.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Hugh Lawson and Bernadette Baum)

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