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China to build more power plants to ease electricity shortage
(Xinhua )
Updated: 2004-02-20 15:17

Electricity shortages are likely to ease this year with the government busily constructing power plants across the nation.

But that doesn't mean there won't be occasional shutoffs and brownouts, or school children being forced to do their homework by candlelight.

Cao Yushu, National Development and Reform Commission spokesman, said on Thursday in Beijing that the better prospects are based on dozens of new electricity generators going into production by the end of this year with a total capacity of up to 37 million kilowatts.

Nonetheless, electricity providers are forecasting that some factories will be forced to suspend production and homes in some regions will be without television or computers for entertainment.

That means some school kids will have good excuses when they tell their teachers their homework is undone because there were not candles at home.

The problem is simple: An inability of the nation's power grid to meet ever-increasing power demands with China's remarkably growing economy.

"Generally speaking, the situation will be difficult this year, " Chen Jin, deputy general manager of the State Grid said.

Electricity shortages, which first started being felt in June 2002, peaked last summer as the country's power consumption steadily increased by an average of 15 percent a month,

Restrictions on electricity use were then launched in 21 provinces and autonomous regions, resulting in negative impacts on the local economy and people's lives.

The National Federation of Electricity Enterprises said in a report this year, newly increased electricity capacity will reach 35 million kilowatts, lower than Cao's prediction of 37 million kilowatts.

Meanwhile, the electricity demand will soar up to 2.11 trillion kilowatts, increasing 12 percent compared with 1.89 trillion kilowatts during 2003.

"The shortage is likely to be slightly lessened in 2005," the federation said in the recent report.

Cao called for greater efforts to improve power production and distribution, build more power plants and grids, and smooth the pricing mechanism, so as to meet electricity demands.

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