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Shanghai Pledges to Ensure Power Supply

After suffering severe power shortages last summer and winter, Shanghai is pledging to withhold from cutting power in the coming summer, but measures will be taken to limit industrial usage.

"Generally speaking, Shanghai doesn't suffer from power shortages. However, under extreme weather, there will be a shortfall," municipal government spokeswoman Jiao Yang said at Tuesday's press conference.

Earlier this month, she told reporters there will be a 2 million kilowatts energy shortfall in the event of a heatwave this summer.

"Shanghai will take all possible measures to ensure the power supply this summer," she added.

Two generators with a combined 1.8 million kilowatt capacity will be put into use by the end of this year.

In addition, Shanghai has contracts with power plants in other parts of China, including the Three Gorges Hydroelectricity Station and the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant to provide 3.8 million kilowatts of electricity to Shanghai this year, up 50 percent from last year.

"The government will ensure that residential energy use will not be affected under any circumstance. For enterprises, we will limit the usage but will not cut the power," Jiao said.

Shanghai is mapping out its energy arrangement for the summer, which will be publicized to enterprises by the end of May and will include the details of power limits.

One of the measures planned will be to increase the price during peak hours.

Jiao said the cost of electricity during peak hours will be 4.5 times higher than during off hours, compared with the current 3.6-fold increase.

The government expects the price increase will result in businesses shifting their working schedule to off-peak hours.

Moreover, the government will promote the use of clean energy, such as natural gas fuelled air-conditioning.

Shanghai plans to build a power plant with a strength of 3 million kilowatts powered by natural gas.

Generators currently under construction will have a capacity of 3.8 million kilowatts.

Shanghai plans to pour over 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) into power plant and electricity network construction and increase power capacity by 8 million kilowatts by the end of 2010, doubling last year's capacity.

Also at the conference, Jiao reiterated the government's commitment to a stable property market.

According to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, Shanghai's housing prices increased by 28.3 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year.

However, Jiao noted that the growth has indeed slowed down on a month-by-month basis.

Compared with the fourth quarter last year, the housing price has grown 3.8 percent in the first three months of the year.

The city's legislators approved a rule to limit the trading of unfinished properties starting next Monday to curb short-term speculation.

Trading of unfinished properties accounts for about 40 percent of second-hand property deals, according to Mao Yuxin, a researcher with Sincere Real Estate Research Institute.

She said the new policy will result in a supply shortage in the second-hand housing market and may lead to a price hike.

However, she noted that the government also issued regulations to increase the supply of low-end housing, which will ease the short-term shortage in property supply.

"But the rule doesn't have much impact on long-term investors," she added.

Jiao Yang said the Shanghai housing market will see a slight excess in supply this year instead of excess demand.

"The government will enhance the market regulation to ensure a healthy real estate market," she said.

(China Daily April 21, 2004)

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