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SERC Denies Proposing a New Energy Ministry
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A senior official with the State Electricity Regulatory Commission on Thursday denied that SERC has ever submitted a report to the central government suggesting the establishment of a Ministry of Energy.

At a press conference held Thursday in Beijing, Wang Yeping, vice chairman of the industry watchdog, said a recent news report that had made this claim was "untrue and irresponsible."

Wang said Ma Kai, head of the State Development and Reform Commission, had already dealt with the question about whether an energy ministry should be established or not.

Currently, the power industry is jointly regulated by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the State Development and Reform Commission, and the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

In early March, Ma Kai, head of the SDRC, the top economic planning agency, told a press conference that the possible establishment of an energy ministry was "a question beyond my scope which can only be answered by a process of institutional reform," adding that, "it's possibly too early to talk about the issue."

Wang Yeping said at the Thursday news conference that the State Electricity Regulatory Commission agreed with Ma Kai and thought the issue should be "examined as part of a process of institutional reform."

Wang answered questions about whether his commission supported the construction of extra-high voltage power grids in China.

He said the issue should be decided in accordance with the nation's economic development and electrical demand.

"If our electrical load is small, the construction of a higher-voltage power grid will be wasteful," Wang said.

The 2006 report on power industry regulation released at the Thursday press conference says China's current 500-kv transmission lines have not yet been fully utilized. The nation's installed capacity is now equivalent to 50 percent of the total of the United States, but its super high-voltage power grid is nearly the same as the United States in scale.

Industry observers said that the report and Wang Yeping's comments showed that the SERC did not support the extra-high-voltage power grid project.

In 2002, China divided the then State Power Corp. into two power grid companies and five electrical companies, and in March 2003, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission was established.

In February 2005, new power industry regulations were promulgated.

In November 2006, the State Council approved proposals to deepen institutional reform of the power industry during the 2006-2010 period.

(Xinhua News Agency April 6, 2007)

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