China power regulator eyes say on hot power issues

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2011 6:38 AM
China power regulator eyes say on hot power issues

BEIJING (Reuters) - The new head of China's power industry regulator hopes to make advancements on coal and power shortages, the ultra-high voltage(UHV) power line plan and grid access for wind and solar power, changing the image of a toothless electricity watchdog.

Wu Xinxiong, appointed as chairman of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) last month, told an internal conference on Thursday that one of his three top priorities was to increase the "initiative, pertinence and foresight" of power industry regulation and supervision.

Wu emphasized that his commission would try to open a new chapter in electricity regulation with firmer confidence, more forceful measures and more pragmatic approaches, according to a release posted on SERC's website (www.serc.gov.cn).

The SERC oversees routine operations in the power industry, but power prices, industry planning and project approvals are all controlled by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and its subsidiary National Energy Administration (NEA).

The watchdog lacks means and resources to challenge dominant grid operators such as the State Grid Corp of China who is advancing an ambitious UHV power plan despite industry doubts over safety, feasibility and necessity.

"(SERC) would come up with an independent regulatory opinion on UHV lines," Wu was quoted by the 21st Century Business Herald as saying.

The State Grid has forecast the worst summer power crunch in years this year for reasons including regional power market imbalances, bolstering its case for UHV power line networks that support large trans-regional power transmission.

But power shortfalls so far were not as bad as expected, thanks to factors such as cooling demand, recovering hydro levels, power price hikes, rising gas imports and government subsidies.

(Reported by Jim Bai and Ken Wills; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)