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Tue, Jul 13, 2004 - Page 12 News List

China steps up power rationing


Oriental TV Tower, one of the most visited sites in Shanghai, is shown along with other high-rise buildings that have little or no lighting on Sunday. Because of the city's power shortage, authorities have instituted electricity rationing for sightseeing destinations at night whenever the temperature rises above a certain level.


Energy-hungry China said yesterday that it has stepped up power-saving measures as part of a campaign to keep electricity failures to a minimum due to a surge in demand amid sweltering summer temperatures.

Authorities in Shanghai have ordered another 700 enterprises to switch high-voltage consumption operations from day to night in hopes that off-peak usage will ease China's badly strained power grids.

The move follows a similar mandate in the city of 17 million people to 500 enterprises that have been operating at night since June 15.

"The enterprises that are asked to operate at night are the enterprises that cause heavy pollution -- enterprises that consume large amounts of energy but with low output, and also enterprises with some work safety problems," said He Changqun, director of the electricity sector of Shanghai Economic Committee.

"They are big and small, and of all kinds," he said.

China is in the midst of another electricity crisis as its booming economy creates a massive appetite for energy that could result in a 30,000 megawatt power shortage over the summer months, the worse shortfall since the 1980s.

China's economy grew 9.8 percent in the first quarter, pushing demand for power beyond the country's struggling generators.

To crank up supply, China will invest a record 18.8 billion yuan (US$2.27 billion) this year in revamping the nation's eastern power grid in an effort to relieve growing power shortages in the booming coastal areas.

In Shanghai starting today, 3,000 enterprises will be divided into seven groups and begin rotating week-long vacations to help conserve energy as temperatures hit highs of 37?C over the weekend and meteorologists said no end to the heat wave was in sight.

In addition, construction projects deemed not crucial will be stopped if temperatures reach 35?C or above, while air conditioners in government buildings, hotels and shopping malls should not be set below 26?C.

He said that most foreign enterprises were unlikely to be affected, however.

"Generally speaking, foreign enterprises here use high-producing technology so basically foreign enterprises are not included.

"If they, however, do have the problem of being high-polluting and high energy-consuming but with low output, we will also ask them to do the same as the Chinese enterprises," He added.

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