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March 21, 2005 - People's Daily

Two electricity distributors in China are to invest heavily in building ultra high-voltage power grids from this year, in an effort to upgrade the country's power transmission facilities and satiate hunger for electric-power supplies.

The investment strategy was revealed by the two companies, the State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC) and the China Southern Power Grid Corp. (CSG), last week in interviews, according to Monday's China Daily.

China is expected to continue suffering from power shortages, largely due to insufficient coal supplies this year, the China Electricity Council said last month.

In order to help alleviate the situation, SGCC, China's largest power grid builder, and the operator of over half the power-starved economy's electricity distribution, has hammered out an investment of 107 billion yuan (12.9 billion US dollars) to build and repair its grids, the company's 2005 work plan released earlier this year stated.

CSG, the second-largest electricity distributor, will spend 30.5 billion yuan (about 3.7 billion US dollars) improving its power transmission capacity in the five provinces it serves - Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan and Hainan.

A large proportion of the two companies' heavy investment will be injected into the construction of the ultrahigh-voltage power grids, they disclosed.

No specific figure, elaborating on the proportion was given, with both citing that construction is a "long-term task."

The State Grid Corp. has made ultra high-voltage grid construction its core business operation for the time being and a "strategic objective" in the long run, according to the company.

In the South, CSG will begun building the pilot section of the 1,000-kilovolt power grid to transmit electricity from Yunnan's Zhaotong to Huidong in Guangdong in the second half of the year, a senior officer surnamed Yin from CSG's news center said last week.

The project, currently in the preparatory stages, will feed the worst black-out hit province of Guangdong, added Yin.

Currently, China's power grid framework is mainly based on the 500-kilovolt system, according to industry insiders. But it is falling far short in terms of ability to cope with the country's expanding power generating needs.