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China Rations Power to Meet Energy-Efficiency Targets

To meet the country’s energy-efficiency targets, some local governments in China are rationing power to factories, homes and hospitals and in some cases shutting down traffic lights, reports The Wall Street Journal. China targets a reduction in energy intensity by 20 percent from 2006 to 2010. The country has cut its energy intensity 15.6 percent by the end of last year.

The target is aimed at limiting China’s reliance on expensive natural resources and is central to reducing China’s emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants because China’s primary source of power is coal, reports Wall Street Journal.

Premier Wen Jiabao has vowed to use an “iron hand” to ensure that the five-year target is met, which includes the closure of outdated and inefficient manufacturing plants, according to the article.

Analysts told the newspaper that the pressure to meet energy targets has increased partly because local officials are being judged on it in annual performance reviews.

As a result, several cities began to ration power, implementing rolling blackouts. As an example cited in the article, in Changzhou, a city of several million people, the local government issued a rotation of rolling blackouts for thousands of factories that required them to shut down five days for every nine they operate.

The BBC reports that officials in the Hebei province ordered local governments to restore power to thousands of people who had their electricity shutdown because cutting power did not meet the central government’s policy.

The local government in Anping cut power to homes and other public facilities, including switching off traffic lights, according to local media, enduring day-long blackouts for the past two weeks, reports BBC.

Blackouts and enforced power cuts also have impacted industry in Hebei province, which accounts for a quarter of the country’s total steel production capacity, with 57 blast furnaces and production lines shutdown since September 4 to save energy, according to the BBC. Beijing previously ordered more than 2,000 factories to shut by the end of September because they were wasting too much energy.

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