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Shanghai Govt: No Blackouts This Summer

Tensions over Shanghai's power supply are likely to ease this summer as millions of more kilowatts of electricity are going to be put into use, easing pressure on the overtaxed regional energy grid.

Last summer's frequent blackouts are still fresh in the memory of many Shanghai residents. At the time, local governments were forced to cut power supply in some places during peak hours. The city's limited capacity to generate power and the contradictory swelling energy consumption put a lot of pressure on China's economic hub, and is considered a potential hurdle bottlenecking the city's development.

But some good news may spark optimism for this year's outlook. At Tuesday's press conference, government spokesperson Jiao Yang announced the country's largest power generating unit, the Wai Gaoqiao Power Plant, has started to operate, and will play a key role in illuminating Shanghai this summer. The new power plant will provide another 900,000 kilowatts of energy to the city's power network until the end of this year, when the city will receive another 2 million kilowatts from other sources.

The government spokesperson assures the public no blackouts will occur this summer, except emergencies. In the case of necessary maintenance to power generators and power grids, enterprises will be informed of power-out times to minimize losses.

China's coastal areas are expected to be short by an estimated 17 million kilowatts this year, and according to Shanghai Electric Power, demands in Shanghai will grow by more than a quarter percent during peak periods this summer, compared with the same period last year.

To cure the strains placed on the already over-stretched power sector, the city will also seek help hands from its neighbours.

Government Spokesperson Jiao Yang says Shanghai has invested in the construction of big power plants, such as the Qinshan Nuclear Power Station in Zhejiang Province, the Three Gorges Hydropower Station in central China's Hubei Province. And as the new power generation facilities begin to provide more and more power, a larger amount of electricity will be transmitted to Shanghai. She estimates that power supply from outside sources will see a 50 percent increase this year, accounting for more than a third of the total volume.

To streamline power consumption, Shanghai will continue to implement its policy on doubling the price of power at peak times as a way to encourage individuals and commercial operations to conserve. The government hopes the price leverage will work to ease the burden on power shortage.

(CRI online April 22, 2004)

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