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Boom areas expect blackouts
( 2003-07-18 10:08) (China Daily)

Some North, East and South China regions, including economically booming Shanghai Municipality and Guangdong Province, are expected to experience temporary power shortages this summer when consumption peaks, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said yesterday.

The shortage is mainly due to the rapid economic growth this year, which boosted electricity consumption by more than 15 per cent year-on-year in the first half of this year.

Officials from the industry watchdog insisted that the power shortage is under control. Rather than an overall supply disruption, the blackout may only occur during the busiest hours in the summer, with stable supplies for the rest of the day.

They said at yesterday's news briefing that electricity shortages, which could be alleviated after the summer, are unlikely to hinder national economic growth. But it might slightly drag down the growth in booming coastal regions.

The power supplies in North, East, and Central China fell short between 5 and 7 per cent of the consumption needed for peak times, they said.

And should the Yellow River continue to be affected by drought, there will be a problem for the power supplies in western areas such as Qinghai and Gansu provinces and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region which heavily rely on hydroelectric power.

To alleviate shortages, the commission is encouraging customers to avoid electricity consumption during peak times by raising tariffs during the business hours and lowering it afterwards, said commission spokesman Tan Rongyao yesterday at a news brief.

The price at the highest end could be as much as five times of that of the lowest charges.

The commission has also drafted rules to enhance power distribution from electricity-rich regions to those in short supply, Tan said.

The cross-regional electricity transmission is expected to increase to 56 billion kilowatt-hours this year, up from last year's 40 billion kilowatt-hours.

Tan yesterday also indicated that there could be a rise in charges for electricity-intensive industries, such as aluminium and steel, in order to cool down already-overheated industries, and to slow down electricity consumption.

He said the low electricity prices to these industries in some areas has contributed partly to the strained power supply.

"The preferential tariff should be adjusted," Tan said.

In the first half of this year, the electricity consumption has increased by 15.4 per cent year-on-year to 861.6 billion kilowatt-hours, according to statistics released yesterday.


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