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China seeks to calm power supply fears as crunch bites By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A coal-fired heating unit can be seen hidden behind snowy ground in Harbin (Hilongjiang Province, China) November 15, 2019. Picture taken November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Muyu Xu//File Photo

By Shivani Singh

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s all-powerful economic planning agency waded into the country’s power crunch on Wednesday, attempting to reassure residents and businesses in areas hardest hit by shortages that it has the coal use and supply situation under close watch.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a state planner, stated that they have asked local governments for more information about coal stocks and their use at power plants and how to fulfill long-term and medium-term supply contracts.

This comes amid electricity shortages that continue to cripple some parts of the no. 2 economy in various regions, particularly the northeast. The record-breaking coal price has been caused by a shortage of coal, stricter emissions standards, and strong demand from producers. This led to widespread restrictions on coal usage, as well as a dimming outlook for economic growth.

China has already called for an increase in imports and ramping up domestic production of coal, a key fuel used for the majority of its power generation

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Northeastern China has been one of the worst-hit areas. Social media reports have highlighted problems with traffic lights, 3G communication networks and shops that operate by candlelight.

Officials sought to ensure citizens that there will be enough coal supply in the face of rising heating demand and winter.

This week the main state grid operator tried to calm customers two times. It stated that it will work to ensure coal supplies and control high-energy, polluting power usage, in order to provide power for residents throughout October holiday and winter heating seasons.

People’s Daily published Wednesday that the supply of coal for power generation and heating in northeastern regions such as Jilin (Heilongjiang) and Liaoning was assured by several coal producers who had signed recent medium and long-term contracts.

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