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2022-08-12 09:16:57

Authorities in the eastern province of Anhui are asking officials, public institutions, and businesses to address the energy shortage by saving power, as heat waves in large parts of the country have increased the use of air conditioners to keep cool.

The provincial government has ordered factories to curb activities and reduce “non-essential” electricity usage, while power rationing is planned for industrial businesses during peak hours, Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, reported Thursday. Authorities have also asked officials to stop taking workplace elevators to and from the first three stories and restricted public buildings from setting the temperature of air conditioning to below 26 degrees Celsius.

The notice comes at a time when China is experiencing record-breaking summer temperatures, pushing energy demand higher as households and indoor workplaces crank up air conditioners to keep cool. The country’s National Meteorological Center has issued 23 consecutive heat alerts since July 20, as the mercury continues to rise.

The campaign in Anhui is aimed to “improve society’s awareness about saving power and alleviating the energy supply crunch,” according to The Paper. Authorities have also suggested turning off unnecessary lights in cities and households and said the province plans to expand the tiered pricing of electricity for industrial and residential use.

Over the past years, multiple provinces have introduced measures — including rationing power to industries and controlling thermostats at government buildings — amid energy shortfalls due to supply disruption and policy-related issues. They led to widespread blackouts last year, and the Chinese authorities have cautioned that the shortages cannot be repeated again.

The extended heat and low rainfall are also causing major rivers to dry up and affecting the power generated from regional hydropower projects. For example, Qingyang County in Anhui, located along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the site of smaller hydropower projects, has received just 1.7 millimeters of rainfall this month, 97% lower than the usual amount, according to official estimates.

Since July, the amount of rainfall in much of the Yangtze River basin has stood 40% lower than that in the same period in previous years, prompting the Ministry of Water Resources to declare a level-four drought alert for six provincial-level regions. The alert is the lowest in a four-tiered emergency response system that is prompted when drought affects the water supplies in multiple cities.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)