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China to raise industrial power prices: Xinhua
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 30, 2011

China will raise prices for industrial power and thermal coal for the first time in two years to ease power shortages and "reduce financial pressure" on power companies, state media reported Wednesday.

The price hike comes after a government warning in October that the country faces power shortages this winter amid soaring coal prices and a shortage of hydropower after a drought.

Prices of residential power will not rise at this time, but the cost to consumers will rise with consumption after a gradual power tariff plan is set, Xinhua news agency said, citing the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

From Thursday, prices for industrial electricity will rise by an average of 0.03 yuan ($0.47) per kilowatt-hour (kwh), the NDRC said, according to the official news agency.

Prices of thermal coal also will be allowed to float next year "by no more than five percent", the NDRC said, topping out at 800 yuan per tonne for coal traded at ports in north China.

Residential power price adjustments will be decided at local public hearings, the NDRC said, without giving a timetable for the rollout of its gradual power tariff plan.

China's overall power consumption in October was up 11.35 percent from a year earlier to 379.7 billion kwh, the National Energy Administration said earlier this month.

On Wednesday, the China Electricity Council said the country would likely face a power shortage of 30-40 million kilowatts this winter and next spring, worse than the 26 million-kilowatt shortfall seen by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission in October.

Power outages and rationing have been imposed in 17 provinces this year and shortages could worsen if the coal supply is not increased or weather turns bitterly cold.

China relies on coal for nearly 70 percent of its energy needs, which have soared in recent years along with the country's blistering economic growth making outages common in the summer and winter when demand peaks.

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