Chinese lawmakers call for more power facilities 03-13-2004 19:03

China is in the grip of its worst energy shortage in over a decade. Since last summer, two thirds of the country has been hit by electricity cuts with frequent blackouts playing havoc with production in many areas. The issue is on the minds of many lawmakers attending the annual session of the National People's Congress.

Li Yuanchao is the head of a power company. He is also a legislator, elected as a deputy to the National People's Congress a year ago.

In his short time as a deputy, Li has twice suggested that the government build more power facilities, and at a faster rate, to alleviate the power shortage.

Li Yuanchao said, "The growth of power facilities lags behind economic growth. That is the key reason behind power shortages in the country." Li is not alone. Many other lawmakers feel the same.

David Zhang, NPC deputy & Director of Henan Prov. Development & Reform Comm., said, "We should make great efforts to build some large-scale and high capacity power plants to meet demand. It is urgent that we have this capacity, so as to loosen the brake on the economy imposed by power shortage."

Outlining this year's development plans, Premier Wen Jiabao told the NPC deputies that speeding up the building of power plants and grids is essential for keeping the economy growing in a stable and rapid way. The Premier's statement received warm welcome.

Li also said, "Power plants and power grids must develop in a coordinated way. Because often, the situation is that one region lacks power in certain periods. If we have a powerful grid, we can, for example, supply power to the eastern region from the west or the north if needed."

China plans to install new power facilities in the next few years, capable of generating 30 to 40 million kilowatts annually. Lawmakers believe that at that speed, the power shortage is likely to be eased in two years.

Generating more power is just one side of the story. Many law-makers say saving energy is also imperative. One way to do that, they say, is to close down high-energy consuming and low-output factories.


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