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China utilities ordered to ensure power supplies ahead of Olympics

China's state-owned electric utilities have been ordered to ensure reliable power supplies for the Olympics and reconstruction from last month's devastating earthquake, amid signs coal supplies are running short, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The report Sunday said China's big power generators, China Huadian Corp., China Guodian Corp. and China Power Investment Corp., had been asked to ensure enough power "regardless of cost."
Consumers were also asked to use power sparingly to help prevent shortages, Xinhua said.
China faces chronic power shortages, especially in the summer and winter peaks for cooling and heating. Electricity grids are being further stretched by damage to transmission facilities from winter snowstorms and from the May 12 earthquake in central China, which killed nearly 70,000 people and devastated entire communities in Sichuan province.
China relies on coal to power nearly three-quarters of its electricity. Utility companies let coal stocks run low after Beijing froze electricity rates last year to contain inflation but let market-set coal prices continue to rise. With the cost of coal at record highs, power generators are trying to avoid losses by purchasing less.
Nationwide, the country has stockpiles of coal at its major power plants to last about 11 days, the report said, citing statistics from the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
But in the region surrounding Beijing, reserves were below 1 million tons, or only enough to last six days, it said.
With the Olympic games due to begin Aug. 8 in Beijing, coal-mining regions have been ordered to run at full capacity to boost coal output and ensure enough power, the report said.
Recent efforts had focused on restoring power supplies to the region damaged by last month's earthquake.
China's State Grid Corp., the country's biggest electricity distributor, was cutting transmissions from Sichuan to other provinces and arranging for more power to be sent to regions still facing shortages due to the disaster, Xinhua said.
It said the company was due to finish repairs on quake-damaged facilities in Sichuan by today.
Despite the alarm over potential shortages, so far brownouts have only been seen in southern China's Guangdong province, the report said.

Updated : 2021-07-26 07:26 GMT+08:00