China builds world's largest rural power grid
BEIJING, Oct 8, 2006 - Xinhua
China's power grid has been spreading quickly in rural areas, with an extra 161,000 rural households hooked up since March this year, raising the proportion of rural families with access to electricity to a historic 99.4 percent, said the country's top power operator Sunday.
Wang Min, spokesperson for the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), said that since 1998 when construction of the rural grid began, a total of 380 billion yuan (about 48.1 billion US dollars) has been pumped into the power network extension, more than was invested over the past 50 years.
The heavy investment means that 99.9 percent of townships and 99.8 percent of villages in China now have electricity, she said. However, some outlying areas, particularly in western China, are still not connected to the grid, Wang said.
The SGCC launched a project in March, vowing to bring electricity to every rural household during the 11th Five-Year plan (2006-2010) period. Big funds are needed to extend the grid to those remote areas, where sparse habitation and long distances make the investment very unprofitable, the company admitted.
"However, as China's top power and grid operator, this is our social responsibility. We have no choice but to meet the basic power needs of rural residents," said Liu Zhenya, General Manager of the State Grid.