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Beijing Tries to Ease Power Shortage

Workers in nearly 6,400 Beijing enterprises will take weeklong vacations by turns starting next week. The move is part of the city’s effort to reduce power consumption during peak hours in the scorching summer.


The companies will be divided into four groups according to location, and the mandatory holiday rotation will continue through mid-August.


The “high-temperature vacation” is just one of several energy conservation measures Beijing is putting in place.


Other precautionary measures include shifting weekends to other days, also by turns. Power consumption on weekends normally runs about one million kilowatts below that of normal workdays.


Meanwhile, star-rated hotels in the capital need not worry any longer about mandated power cuts during peak hours.


According to an urgent notice issued to star-rated hotels by the Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau on Monday, the city government has canceled its “two hours on, one hour off” policy for air-conditioner operation in these hotels.


“However, the hotels must take other conservation measures to reduce power consumption,” says the notice.


For example, the hotels are advised to do laundry at night and to keep air conditioners no lower than 26 degrees Celsius. Hotel staff members are to be told not to use elevators for fewer than five stories.


The emergency plan for power consumption during peak hours, released just a week ago by the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission, met with strenuous objection from tourism authorities and hotels, reported Tuesday’s Beijing Times.


“Hotels are an important industry reflecting the image of a city and serve as a platform for international exchange,” they said. Mandated power cuts would bring losses to the hotels, harm their image and that of the capital, and cause a bad effect in the world, they said.


Media reports about the power cut plan brought worries to overseas tour and travel agencies, according to the Beijing Municipal Tourist Bureau. It cited a letter from the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, saying that the measure might affect travelers’ desires to visit Beijing.


Beijing Vice Mayor Zhang Mao, said that the city, which draws 59 percent of its power supply from other parts of the country, might nevertheless impose brownouts this summer as power shortages worsen nationwide.


Experts estimate that electricity use in Beijing this summer may hit a record high of 9.5 million kilowatts, 15 percent higher than last year’s record.


The State Power Grid Company has said that the entire country may be facing its most severe power shortage since the 1980s, with a gap of 30 million kilowatts between electricity demand and supply this summer.


Accelerating development of the power-intensive machinery, auto, steel and manufacturing sectors, the growing pace of urbanization and low energy efficiency are to blame for China’s extensive energy shortage, according to General Manager Zhao Xizheng of the State Power Grid Company.


A total of 24 provincial areas have imposed power brownouts in the past few months.


(Xinhua News Agency & CRI.com July 7, 2004)


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