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Power Use Record Set, Shortages Threaten

The nation set a new record for electricity consumption last Friday. Usage jumped to 6.0 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), breaking the historical high set on July 29 last year, according to the National Power Dispatching and Communication Center.

Due to the high temperature throughout the country, power consumption began to skyrocket nationwide on June 6. There was a similar spike in late June last year.

Power shortages are becoming serious across the nation.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan power grid set a new record high at 19.7 million kilowatts last Friday. In the past six months, power on the grid was switched off 625 times to limit consumption.

In north China's Shanxi Province, power has been cut off 207 times this year and in Hebei Province, more than 2,000 times.

In central China, the situation is no less severe. Many power plants do not have adequate coal reserves and some, such as the Xiangfan Power Plant and Jingmen Power Plant in Hubei Province, have stopped parts of their operations.

Officials say at least 1 million kilowatts cannot be generated owing to coal shortages and the power shortfall for this summer has been estimated at more than 20 million kilowatts.

Experts say proper allocation may alleviate the shortage. Peak power consumption hours are different in each province and using these time differences can help deal with the shortages.

A week-long nationwide campaign to educate the public about energy conservation began on June 6.

Beijing intends to introduce different electricity prices for different hours. The prices will go up 11 percent during peak hours in the third quarter of the year.

Beijing Vice Mayor Zhang Mao warned last Tuesday that the city, which imports 59 percent of its power from other parts of the country, might impose blackouts this summer as power shortages worsen nationwide.

Meanwhile, the average national power reliability--the amount of time residents live with power per year--was 99.9 percent, the first drop in a decade.

That means residents of cities and townships lived without power for an average of 11 hours and 43 minutes a year, three and a half hours more than in 2002, said Lu Qizhou, deputy general manager of State Grid Corporation (SGC).

Twenty-four provinces imposed switch-offs to limit power consumption during the first four months of this year while only 22 provinces did so last year.

There were roughly 40,000 reports of damaged SGC equipment or facilities between 2001 and 2003, with damage pegged at 300 million yuan (US$36.3 million). In the first quarter this year, there were 1,925 reports of damaged or stolen equipment or facilities.

The damage is blamed for 70 percent of the problems with transmission equipment.

(China Daily June 14, 2004)

Peak Electricity Usage Arrives Earlier This Summer
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Nation Gears Up for Energy Crunch
Beijing Braces for Summertime Power Shortages
Nationwide Campaign to Save Energy
China Faces Energy Challenges
Guangzhou Enforces Blackouts to Tackle Power Shortage
Shanghai Pledges to Ensure Power Supply
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