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Slower rise in energy output eyed

By Richard Fu (Shanghai Daily)

08:58, March 06, 2012

CHINA is eying slower growth in power and coal output and flat oil production this year as the government tries to steer the economy toward a soft landing.

Electricity production may rise 7.5 percent this year, cooling from a double-digit growth in the past two years, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a report delivered at the annual meeting of the National People's Congress yesterday.

The cooling comes as China seeks a more balanced and sustainable development. Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday cut China's economic growth target this year to 7.5 percent from 8 percent.

The slower growth in electricity production will also curb coal output. The NDRC, China's top planning body, said raw coal output may rise 3.7 percent to 3.65 billion tons this year, sharply below last year's increase of 8.7 percent, and is partly due to government efforts in closing inefficient small mines.

The NDRC also aims to maintain this year's crude oil production unchanged at 204 million tons.

China also reiterated its pledge to deepen reform price reforms in energy products this year to better reflect the scarcity and supply/demand conditions of resources.

Wen's remark on electricity-price reform in his opening speech at the NPC indicates "a stronger determination with regard to resolving the coal/tariff dilemma faced by independent thermal power producers," Bloomberg News quoted a Deutsche Bank report as saying.

Surging coal prices in the past had driven thermal power plants deep into the red because they cannot set power prices freely. The government had to raise power tariffs and cap coal prices at the end of last year.

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