During the era of Japanese Emperor Dai Sei, the Japanese decided to develop light industry in their colony of Taiwan. They needed more power for industry in Taiwan, so on April, 1919, the Taiwan Power Company was organized.
The company decided to build a dam on Sun Moon Lake for hydro-electric generation. Using the Central Mountain Range's Zhuoshui River as its water source and the natural Sun Moon Lake as a water-storage area, which was elevated to about 800 meters, water was sent to Menpai Lake. A 320-meter drop in height was used to generate electricity, creating 100,000 kilowatts of electric power.
The History of the Jiji Branch Line Railroad
In order to transport goods and construction materials, the Japanese built a railroad to the construction site, the Jiji Branch Line Railroad. They also built a temporary hydroelectric power station in Beishankeng (today's Beishan Village, Guoxing Township, Nantou County), which could generate 1,800 watts of electricity for construction needs.
Survey of the Zhuoshui River
In order to build the hydro-electric power plant at Sun Moon Lake, a survey team went to the drainage areas of the upper reaches of the Zhuoshui River to investigate forest resources, riverbeds, water convergence areas, slippage of mountain slopes, and so on. The survey covered water convergence areas, construction areas, the geology of construction and building areas and other areas of construction, and evaluations of post-construction geological endurance. This included geological surveys and evaluations of embankments, water-intake areas, water courses, and tunnels. The Zhuoshui River's water volume, flow, depth, and rain-water accumulation were also measured.
Shortly after construction work began, World War I broke out. The war caused economic panic, and the prices of goods increased. This was followed by Japan's Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. As a result, not enough funding was available for the construction work and it was halted for four years, from 1923 to 1926. During this time there were efforts to resume construction, but due to lack of funds, they were unable to. Sun Moon Lake's hydroelectric plant construction was halted for almost 10 years.
In order to resume the construction work as soon as possible, in the spring of 1929, the Japanese decided to issue bonds to raise funds. In June of 1931, the Japanese took out a foreign loan, and restarted the construction. The construction cost 68,500,000 yen altogether, and in all, around 2,544,000 laborers were employed.
Struggle against Malaria
In order to facilitate construction, the Japanese established a program of epidemic prevention and health protection. This was due to the enormous scale of the construction work, and the large amounts of engineers and laborers needed. Also, the work was to take place in high, mountainous areas susceptible to malaria, and consequently, surveys were done in this area first, and prevention measures were suggested. The removal of grass and trees surrounding the construction areas and dormitories was suggested, in order to control mosquitoes, a source of malaria.
Land Acquisition and Relocation
Before beginning hydroelectric plant construction at Sun Moon Lake, it was necessary to acquire the land. 170 households were living in the Sun Moon Lake area, including the Thao Aborigines and the Han Chinese. The 1,242 people who lived around the construction site and catchment areas were moved to other places. The Han Chinese were relocated to Yunlin's Tianzhong and Daxin, Puli, Guoxing, and Nangang. The Thao were forcibly removed to Puji Village (Dehua Community). Those forced to relocate were compensated a total of 634,337 Japanese yen.
Channeling the Waters from Wujie
This was an enormous engineering job. A channel 49,860 meters in length had to be made to draw water to Sun Moon Lake. At an estimated daily progress of 3 meters, it would have taken 18 years to complete. In order to shorten construction time, the channel was built from both ends, and took nine years to complete.
The Daguan Power Plant (Sun Moon Lake Plant 1)
After drawing the water from Zhuoshui River, the quantity of water in Sun Moon Lake increased. The lake expanded from 4.55 square kilometers to 7.73 square kilometers. The depth of water increased from 6 meters to 27 meters. The water in Sun Moon Lake was drawn to the Shuili River in Yuchi's Shuishe, where the power station was built. The Japanese named the power station the "Menpai Lake Power Station." Later, the name was changed to " Sun Moon Lake Plant 1”. After Taiwan's restoration to China, the name was changed to Daguan Power Plant. The plant generated 20,000,000 watts of electricity, transmitting to power stations in Wufeng and Taipei in the north and Chiayi and Kaohsiung in the south.
The Jugong Power Plant (Sun Moon Lake Plant 2)
The hydraulic electro-generation construction was completed in 1934, after 15 years and at cost of 64,000,000 yen. However, more electricity was still needed. In 1935, the construction of Jugong Power Plant began. It drew water from the reservoir of the Daguan Plant, using a drop of 140 meters to generate 43,000 watts of electricity. Construction was completed in 1939.
The Wanda Power Station
In order to obtain more electricity, Wanda Power Station was built. It uses water from the Wanda River, a branch of the Zhuoshui, to generate power of up to 15,000 watts. The drop in height is 275 meters. Construction began in 1941 and was completed in 1943.
In 1944 and 1945, during World War II, the Daguan Power Plant was bombed by Allied planes. The generators were seriously damaged, and electricity production came to a complete standstill.
Taiwan's Retrocession to China
After retrocession to China, Taiwan required more power. The generators were repaired, without any external help or money from overseas. After repair work was completed, the Sun Moon Lake area became the most important electricity-generation area in Taiwan. In October of 1948, President Chiang Kai-shek inspected Sun Moon Lake and gave the name "Daguan" to the first power station, and "Jugong" to the second power station.
The Minghu Pump-Storage Power Plant
The Minghu Pump-Storage Power Plant was built in 1985. It was the first pump-storage power plant built in Taiwan, and is also the largest underground power plant in the Far East. It draws water from Sun Moon Lake in the early hours of the morning, and then releases water during the day time.