TAIYUAN - North China's Shanxi province is suffering a severe power shortage this winter,mainly due to government requirements to cut power use to meet energy-saving goals, media reported.
But Niu Renliang, vice-governor of Shanxi, denied that and stressed at a meeting on Friday "the main reason for the present power shortage is not the energy-saving drive."
Cities and towns across Shanxi have seen frequent power outages since mid-October which have affected local residents' lives, People's Daily reported on Friday.
The power shortage in the province has reached more than 3.2 million kW, and by the end of this year will increase to 5 to 6 million kW, accounting for 20 to 25 percent of the province's total demand, the newspaper reported.
Driven by heating needs, power shortages have been common in recent winters, but this year's situation is the most serious, Ren Guoyuan, manager of the power branch company of the Jinxi Machinery Industries Group Corporation in Taiyuan, the provincial capital, told the newspaper.
For instance, about 40 percent of the power demand in Jincheng city cannot be met this winter.
The newspaper quoted an anonymous senior official from the Shanxi electric power branch company of the State Grid as saying that the reason for the power shortage is that since October some power plants have been ordered to halt electric generation to meet the energy-saving goals that the central government has set for the province.
From 2006 to 2009, Shanxi met the central government's requirements in the energy-saving and emission-reduction project during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), according to information from the provincial economy and information committee released at the meeting on Friday.
But to meet all the requirements of the project, the province still needs to reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 4.6 percent by the end of the year, which still puts unprecedented pressure on the provincial government, the report in People's Daily said.
Mayors and officials at State-owned enterprises will be removed from their posts if the energy-saving requirements are not met, according to regulations.
But at the meeting, an official from the provincial electric power branch company of the State Grid, who was reluctant to be named, said that the reason for the power shortage was complicated.
Shanxi has to transmit more than one-third of its electricity every year - which it generated mainly through burning coal - to other municipalities and provinces including Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.
But Shanxi has to bear the energy consumption cuts by itself, which has caused great pressure for achieving the energy-saving goals, the official said.
To ease the power shortage, Niu Renliang said that provincial departments will try to increase power supply by 2.5 million kW starting Saturday.
The increased supply will come through reducing the electricity transmitted to other provinces, cutting the power use of local electrolytic aluminum companies, and increasing the power generation of large power plants, he said.
"Ensuring residents' living needs and the needs of heating and gas supplies in winter are always our top priority," he said.
He also said that a coal shortage does not exist in the coal-rich province, but he urged local power plants to increase their amount of stocked coal from nine days to 15 days, to prevent transportation difficulties in winter.
The province's monthly coal production reached a peak of 67.5 million tons in October, and its annual production is expected to reach 720 million tons.