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Measures to Help Save Energy

Beijing will have to temporarily cut off electricity to some users this summer in order to ensure a supply for large blocks or big users that are of more importance. Vice Mayor Zhang Mao issued the warning on Tuesday. Detailed restrictions have not yet been determined.


This summer, nearly two-thirds of the country’s 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions are reportedly ready to restrict electricity use.


Beijing has not had to cut the power supply since 2002, but it faces a shortage of 1.2 million kilowatts for the peak demand period this summer. Demand is predicted to be up to 9.5 million kilowatts, 14 percent higher than in the same period last year.


In the summer of 2002, the capital was forced to cut off power temporarily to three lines for civil use, said Tang Songhan, a press officer with the local electricity supply authority.


Officials from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform said basic living needs of local residents, especially urban residents, will be given priority, and Vice Mayor Zhang said that electricity for residents, schools, army, hospitals, railway, government organizations and water and gas facilities will not be influenced by the new policy.


But, he said, “We are facing a stern electricity supply situation now.”


Uncertainties in the supply chain pose a big threat. About 60 percent of the capital’s electricity comes from other provinces, and 24 percent of the country’s provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions are facing their own power shortages this year.


In the past, other provinces and municipalities would switch off their electricity to guarantee Beijing’s steady supply in summer. Last year, 16 provinces and municipalities restricted their own electricity consumption.


Beijing should play its part and contribute to nationwide conservation efforts, Zhang said.


The municipal government plans to adopt different electricity rates depending on the hours of the day. The new pricing system will apply mainly to enterprises, commercial facilities and hotels.


Electricity prices between 11 PM to 7 AM are expected to be 20 percent cheaper than the average rate, while usage during peak hours--between 7 AM and 6 PM--will cost more. Exact charges have not been fixed yet, but a pricing plan has been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission for approval.


Meanwhile, some 500 energy-consuming enterprises in Shanghai are expected to shift their operating times to later hours this summer owing to power shortages.


Local government departments, office buildings and large retail facilities may have to keep the temperatures of their air conditioning systems at no lower than 26 degrees C to help save power.


Despite a power shortfall that officials predicted in April would run to 2 million kilowatts, senior officials said Wednesday that the city could ensure that supply will roughly meet demand in the summer, a period of “seasonal power shortfalls.”


“We think we can smoothly pass the peak summer days of power demand, and there won’t be as critical a power supply situation as last year,’’ said SMEC Deputy Director Le Jingpeng Wednesday.


The metropolis suffered severe power shortages last summer and winter, and there were a few cases where industrial power in certain sectors was cut temporarily.


According to Le, Shanghai’s local power supply capacity will be adding over 1 million kilowatts this year. Two new generators were installed in the city’s northeastern Waigaoqiao area, bringing the city’s total power generating capacity to more than 10 million kilowatts. Shanghai’s plan is to almost double that capacity by 2010.


Apart from the local supply, Shanghai has gained support from the State Power Grid and East China Power Grid as well as other areas in China, Le said.


The scheduled completion of over 50 power transmission projects before the arrival of peak use days will contribute to the safe operation of the local power grid. These projects are included in the city’s 20 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion) investment in current projects to improve local power infrastructure.


While forecasts from meteorologists indicate that the weather this summer will be better than last year, hopefully reducing pressure on Shanghai’s power supply, other plans like artificially inducing rainfall have also been arranged if needed.


(China Daily June 10, 2004)

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