China suffers power shortage 2008-01-30 16:15:14   Print

Two workers of Huaibei power company inspect the transformer substations in Huaibei, east China's Anhui Province, Jan. 29, 2008. The power company pressed the monitoring and inspection on power lines and transformer substations to ensure the power supplies in order. An unprecedented snowstorm has affected large parts of China including Anhui, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Hubei and Shanghai.(Xinhua Photo)
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    Beijing, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Most parts of China are in dire need of power amid severe disruptions caused by the prolonged snow, rain and cold weather.

    As of Sunday, 17 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions had suffered blackouts, and power grids in central China's Hubei, Hunan Provinces and south China's Guizhou and Guangdong Provinces had been seriously damaged.

    More than 30 million people have been affected by the snow-triggered power shortage, which is blacking out provinces, including the populous eastern Anhui and Jiangsu and southern Guangdong, according to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs.

    In southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, villagers turned to coal oil for illumination after the power had been cut off amid the heavy snow.

    "I bought 200 kilograms of coal oil from the county yesterday and so far more than 30 kg has been sold," said Tang Libing, a retailer who lives in Baibao village.

    Candles, charcoal and coalballs have also made a comeback in Guangxi villages where electricity has been cut off.

    Continuous snow have also affected the power supply in eastern Shanghai Municipality, the country's financial hub.

    "To make up for the lack of power, we will buy electricity from neighboring provinces by any means, no matter what it takes," Zhou Yongxing, head of Shanghai Municipal Power Company was quoted by the local First Financial Daily as saying.

    "Shanghai's maximum power load is 18 million kw," Zhou said. "The city can generate 12 million kw on its own, but the other six million kw has to rely on other provinces, which have been affected by the bitter weather.

    "If power supply fell short of demand, production restrictions will be imposed on energy-intensive industries to ensure electricity in local households," the official was quoted as saying.

    In the booming province of Guangdong, workers are busy fixing the power grid disconnected by the heavy snow and strong winds.

    "We will do our best to ensure the power supply during the Spring Festival," said Yuan Maozhen, board chairman of the South China Power Grid Company, referring to the most important festival in China which is only a week away.

    More than 4,150 power lines that belong to the company were disrupted by the snow.

    Blocked roads and railways have also choked coal shipments. Most power plants, which had just two days of coal left, resort to sea routes for shipping in emergency coal supplies.

    About 4.5 million tons of coal is expected to arrive in Guangzhou ports on a fleet of 125 cargo ships, some of which had canceled international missions to assist in coal shipping from north to south, the Guangzhou Daily reported on Wednesday.

    It said Guangzhou port opened green passages for incoming cargo ships to unload coal promptly. However, it will still take 15 days for ships from Bohai Bay in north China to reach Guangzhou. Ten cargo ships will arrive in the next three days, the newspaper said.

    "More cargo terminals will be opened to increase the capacity of the port," Chen Hongxian, board chairman of Guangzhou Port Group was quoted as saying.

    By Tuesday noon, nearly 100,000 railway passengers had been stranded in Guangzhou because the southern end of the Beijing-Guangzhou rail line, a north-south trunk railway, has been paralyzed by heavy snow in central Hunan Province, where power transmission facilities have been knocked out.

    On Wednesday morning, China's Premier Wen Jiabao arrived at the Guangzhou Train Terminal to help direct the province's disaster relief work and to see conditions himself.

    "We are working on the power shortage," Wen told passengers stranded in the waiting halls, adding that "as soon as the power supply resumes, everything will go smoothly."

    In Guizhou, 12 cities and counties were still in the dark with another 19 having only partial power supplies. A total of 472 power substations ceased operation and 12 electric rail lines were affected in the province.

    Brutal winter storm have wracked the border regions in southwestern Yunnan Province, cutting off power supplies, paralyzing traffic and disabling communications.

    The snow storm on Tuesday dumped up to one-meter snow in the Gongshan County of Nujiang Lisuzu Autonomous Region, on the Sino-Burma border, making at least four towns inaccessible.

    The power failure left more than 35,000 people in the dark when the destructive snowstorm knocked down 140 10-kv utility poles in the county.

    The snow storm has also caused damage to water pipes, roads and telecommunication cables in the region.

    The snow, the heaviest in a decade in many places, has been falling in China's east, central and southern regions since Jan. 10, causing death, structural collapses, power blackouts, highway closures and crop destruction.

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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