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Beijing Tries Ways to Tackle Electricity Shortages

Beijing municipal authorities are beset by how to solve a power shortage problem facing the city as its power consumption is expected to reach a record 9.5 million kilowatts this summer.

"Beijing's grid is a typical power recipient, which means two-thirds of all its electrical demand depend on power transmissions from Shanxi and Hebei provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and northeastern provinces," said Chen Tiecheng, an official in charge of power and coal management at the Beijing Development and Reform Commission.

The power consumption load nationwide has continued to increase this summer and 24 provincial areas have already imposed power brownouts over the past few months, Chen said.

"Even Beijing is not immune to the crisis," Chen said at a press conference organized mainly for overseas reporters. "The highest power consumption load reached 9.43 million kilowatts on July 23, which is 1.1 million kilowatts higher than last year's figure."

Experts predict the electricity shortage during peak times this summer could reach 30 million kilowatts in China.

To tackle the serious problem, Beijing has adopted a series of measures that have helped save 398,000 kilowatts of power per day, he noted.

Xie Zhiguo, vice-general economic administrator of the Beijing Electric Power Company (BEPC), told reporters that Beijing has invested 1.26 billion yuan (US$152 million) to upgrade the capital's current grid during the past half year.

"Such a measure has greatly improved the power consumption load in the city," said Xie, adding that the consumption peak hours may reappear in the coming days when the temperature surpass 30 C.

Thanks to effective measures, he noted, the power supply situation in Beijing has remained stable and most citizens have suffered no power brownouts this summer.

He also disclosed that Beijing will invest another 23 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion) in power programs to ensure the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing will go off smoothly.

Xie predicted the power consumption load will hit 13 million kilowatts by the year 2008.

The municipal government has issued a special notice, demanding the whole city take emergency measures to conserve electricity as well as guarantee power generation through enhancing coal transportation and water reserves in the Ming Tombs Reservoir.

Such measures include the adoption of differential seasonal power prices, raising the temperatures on air conditioners, a rotation of weekly vacations and collective holidays among the staffs of factories and companies.

For example, "Air conditioners in government offices, units and enterprises are urged to be kept at 26 C at the minimum," Chen said. "Through this, 43,000 kilowatts of the peak hour power consumption load can be saved."

To deal with possible emergency situations, the BEPC has signed contracts on power control or non-peak-hour power consumption with more than 1,000 enterprises, construction sites, restaurants and hotels in the capital, said the official.

"We fully understand the power shortage situation in Beijing and will contribute our efforts to the power-saving campaign," said Zhao Tong, general manager of the SMC (China) Co Ltd, a foreign-funded enterprise in Beijing Economic and Technological Development Area.

His firm has enjoyed lots of purchasing orders, he told reporters, and normal production of the two SMC plants in the development area have not been disturbed by power shortages.

Meanwhile, SMC's third plant, which is located in Beijing Tianzhu Export Processing Area, has adopted a rotation vacation system at the request of local government since the middle of July.

"Workers in the plant are arranging to work on weekends and to take holidays on Thursday and Wednesday," he said.

(China Daily August 6, 2004)

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