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Shanghai to ration electricity to offices, malls on shortages

SHANGHAI -- Authorities in China's financial hub of Shanghai will for the first time ration power to thousands of office buildings and malls this summer due to chronic shortages, state media reported.

Over 3,000 non-industrial businesses will have to turn off air conditioners periodically if temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure there is enough power for residents, the Oriental Morning Post said.

Demand for electricity during the hot summer months will exceed supply by up to 2.1 million kilowatts, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Electric Power Company told the newspaper.

“If it is unusually hot and the temperatures hit 37 C we hope these office buildings and shops can shut down and take a break,” the unnamed official was quoted saying last week.

Officials at the city's power company were not immediately available to comment when contacted by AFP on Tuesday.

China is expected to experience a power shortage of 30 million kilowatts this summer — the worst since 2004 — as electricity consumption soars during the sweltering months of June, July and August, state media has reported.

Analysts have blamed the power shortage on surging coal prices.

Power producers have been reluctant to boost output because they can't pass on the higher coal costs to consumers as utility prices are strictly controlled by the government.

The worst hit areas are expected to be Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces in the east, Beijing and neighboring cities and the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, China National Radio reported earlier this month.

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