AP has a report on Chinese efforts to restrict energy consumption (which caused some angst in the local press here regarding the possible impact on iron ore prices) – China blacks out towns to meet energy goal.
Chinese steel mills and mobile phone factories are being idled and thousands of homes in one area are doing without electricity as local governments order power cuts to meet energy-saving targets set by Beijing.
Rolling blackouts and enforced power cuts are affecting key industrial areas. The prosperous eastern city of Taizhou turned off street lights and ordered hotels and shopping malls to cut power use. In Anping County southwest of Beijing, an area known as China’s wire-manufacturing capital, thousands of factories and homes have endured daylong blackouts over the past two weeks.
“We can’t meet deadlines for some orders and will have to pay penalties,” said Han Hongmai, general manager of Anping’s Jintai Metal Wire Co. “At home we can’t use the toilet” on blackout days due to lack of power for water pumps, he said.
While the U.S. and Europe struggle with flagging economies, the power outages are symptomatic of China’s torrid growth and officials’ capricious use of their powers to meet the authoritarian government’s goals.
China’s economic expansion, which hit 10.3 percent in the latest quarter, blew holes in government efforts to curb surging energy demand, pollution and emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Beijing told local leaders to clamp down and stepped up pressure by sending inspectors to see the order was carried out. …
In 2007, gasoline shortages disrupted the economy after refiners cut production in response to price controls. The next year, parts of China shivered through blackouts in bitter winter cold after the government froze power prices, prompting utilities to cut expenses by letting coal stockpiles run low.
This year’s power cuts began after Beijing announced in August that an energy efficiency campaign suffered a setback as a stimulus-fueled building boom drove growth in steel, cement and other heavy industry.