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China's Power Grid Spreads Quickly in Rural Areas
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China's power grid has been spreading quickly in rural areas, with an extra 161,000 rural households hooked up since March this year, raising the proportion of rural families with access to electricity to a historic 99.4 percent, said the country's top power operator Sunday.

Wang Min, spokesperson for the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), said that since 1998 when construction of the rural grid began, a total of 380 billion yuan (about US$48.1 billion) had been pumped into the power network extension, more than had been invested over the last half-century.

The heavy investment means that 99.9 percent of townships and 99.8 percent of villages in China now have electricity, she said, lamenting though that some outlying areas, particularly in western China, still remain unconnected to the grid.

The SGCC launched a project in March, vowing to bring electricity to every rural household during the 11th Five-Year plan (2006-2010) period. Large funds will be needed to complete this goal in remote areas, where sparse habitation and long distances make the project very cost-ineffective.

"As China's top power and grid operator, this is our social responsibility. We have no choice but to meet the basic power needs of rural residents," said Liu Zhenya, General Manager of the State Grid.

(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2006)

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