06/03/2005, 00.00
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Zhejiang on the verge of an energy crisis

Despite being one of China's richest provinces, Zhejiang must adopt summer energy-saving measures that include shutting down plants, banning air-conditioning and restricting public lighting.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) –Zhejiang, one of China's richest provinces, is getting ready for an energy crunch that will force the shut down of many plants in its territory.

An estimated shortfall of around eight million kilowatts is forecast in the coming months compared with six million last year, said a statement by the province's Economic and Trade Commission and Electric Power Bureau. "From this point of view, Zhejiang will have the worst electricity shortages in its history," it said.

This manufacturing-intensive province is one of the country's key centres of light industry, home to 3,000 companies. Last year, it was hard hit by the summer power crunch.

Wide scale emergency measures will be introduced this year, with whole industries asked to temporarily stop operating or be forced to reduce production by half during the peak electricity user months of July and August.

Small-scale steel mills and other energy-sucking industries such as cement production and electroplating will all be subject to closure or production stoppages, it said.

Other enterprises, which require continuous production, such as the chemical industry, paper-making, and printing will be required to temporarily halt their operations for 10 to 15 days.

Local construction sites involved in non-essential industrial or infrastructure projects will be asked to halt work whenever it gets too hot.

No air conditioners will be allowed unless the temperature is higher than 30º C (90º F), and then they are to be set no lower than 26º C (82º F), whilst their use will be banned completely during peak hours.

Street lights will be turned off and shops are banned from using neon advertising signs, except during holidays, the order said.

Last year 24 of China's 31 provinces and municipalities suffered from blackouts as power companies short on coal and generating capacity were not able to produce enough electricity to feed the country's booming economy.

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