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China: Power shortage: 6,400 factories to go off-line

Due to summer's unquenchable power thirst, about 6,400 industrial enterprises in and around Beijing will be shut down for a week.

Starting from Thursday, the plants -- mostly State-owned industries that have an eight-hour working day -- will be shut down and come back online according to a staggered programme. The policy will run until the end of next month.

The workers at the enterprises will be able to take a week off and not be penalized financially, the government has ruled.

But they will have to work overtime after summer to make up for the time off.

In line with a circular from the Beijing Municipal Labour and Social Security Bureau on Tuesday, the enterprises will be able to get their employees to work six days a week in September, when demand for power is tipped to ease.

According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, the policy is aimed at staggering the peak times of power consumption during the capital's hottest months.

At the moment, many regions in China are facing tight power supplies. According to the Xinhua News Agency, the country is facing its most severe power shortage this summer since the 1980s.

There is expected to be a shortfall of 1.2 million kilowatts in Beijing this summer.

To combat the worsening energy situation, the government has given energy conservation top billing in its long-term energy outlook.

It represents a distinct shift from the previous focus solely on energy exploitation.

A Xinhua report said in the first four months of this year, industrial enterprises in China consumed 75 per cent of all of the power used.

Worse still, it was 18 per cent more compared with the same period last year.

The municipal government is therefore targeting industrial plants in addition to applying other energy-saving measures.

The government is confident that it can alleviate the current power shortage in the capital.

According to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Beijing, district governments and local power departments will select the enterprises that will go off-line.

Companies that integral to the city's economy and people's livelihoods will not go on the list.

Although the Jingmei Group (Beijing Coal Group), located in the city's Mentougou District, now chews through a huge amount of electricity each day, it will not be listed, an official told China Daily.

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