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Energy Saving Scheme Approved
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The privilege of free energy consumption for employees of energy enterprises is to be abolished in northern China's Hebei Province. The proposal was approved on May 25 by local legislative authorities.  

For decades employees working in the electricity, coal and gas industries have enjoyed free access to the power they help produce. In fact in the homes of some of those working in the electricity generating industry there's no meter to record how much power is being used.   

However, the scheme has long been criticized by the public and even some deputies attending the National People's Congress.

The new arrangements, which will take affect on July 1, instruct all enterprises to charge their employees the same as everyone else. The regulations also detail punishments for those not adhering to the new rules.

Any enterprise refusing to accept the regulations and which continues to provide free or low cost energy to employees could be fined. The names of offenders will be made public.     

The regulation further demands that county-level government should take energy consumption into account in both the evaluation of social development and examination of officials. However, the abolishment of free access to energy has not been included in the initial draft of the regulation, according to one lawmaker.

"The abolishment of energy welfare is necessary not only to prevent waste caused by free consumption but also to help narrow the unfair distribution of natural resources" said He Jun, vice director of the legislation committee of the local congress.

According to media reports, electricity producers in Shijiazhuang City, capital of the province, abolished their free electricity scheme in March after a circular was issued by the State Grid Corporation of China.

The circular asked all the Corporation's affiliated companies to immediately stop giving their employees preferential treatment in regard to their use of electricity. 

( by Wang Zhiyong June 1, 2006)

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