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Power suppliers given deadline
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The country's two major power firms have been told to speed up repair work in snow-hit regions to ensure electricity is restored by the end of next month.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said yesterday the State Grid Corporation of China and China Southern Power Grid should employ all means necessary to restore supplies to the public and the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Repairing the power grids has reached a challenging stage, as most of the remaining work is located in remote mountain areas, the NDRC said.

Severe snowstorms struck central, south and southwest regions of China in mid-January, leading to widespread traffic jams, power outages and crop damage.

The railway, agriculture and livestock authorities should also expedite reconstruction efforts, the NDRC said.

Similarly, local governments have been urged to help farmers in snow-devastated areas, by increasing livestock and seed supplies, and providing technological support.

The NDRC also ordered State-owned coal mines to expand production, as factories reopen after the Spring Festival holidays and demand for electricity rises.

The country's largest power transmission company, State Grid, will spend 39 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) to renovate and rebuild transmission infrastructure damaged during the snowstorms, its president Liu Zhenya said.

The company saw direct economic losses of more than 10 billion yuan as a result of the blizzards, he said.

"We have set a target to restore all power systems before March 20. Currently, more than 96 percent of our users have had their power supply restored," a source from State Grid told China Daily.

The company has restored 14,500 power transmission lines, more than 90 percent of the total damaged, he said.

High-voltage power lines are designed to withstand about 10-15 mm of ice. But during the recent snowstorms, the average was more than double that, and up to 60 mm in some places, the source said.

If lines are rebuilt to withstand 30 mm of ice, tariffs will have to rise by 0.05 yuan per kWh in order to cover the costs, he said.

State Grid will spend 253 billion yuan this year to strengthen the power grid, the source said.

China Southern Power Grid, which provides power to the Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan, said about 95 percent of its clients have had their power restored following repair work.

(China Daily February 21, 2008)

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