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China Improves Power Network to Prepare Against Natural Disasters

China will speed up the enhancement of its power grid to better prepare against the looming winter, as the specter of devastating snowstorms the country experienced earlier this year still lingers, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Tuesday.

Zhang Guobao, vice director of the NDRC, the country's top economic planner, said faced with increasing natural disasters, such as the severe snowstorms and earthquakes, greater challenges were imposed on the safety and stability of the power system.

He added various regions must improve power planning and optimize grid structures to improve their ability against disasters, the sooner the better.

Starting 2009, the anti-disaster ability would be one integral part of grid planning. Reports on new power facility building projects must be made, and with it, necessary protective measures, he said.

China's power output hit 2.5909 trillion kwh in the first three quarters, up 11.74 percent year on year, according to the Fuel Association of China Electricity Council.

But Zhang said despite the quick growth, rescue equipment and operations of the power network were not satisfying enough in event of major natural disasters. The emergency response mechanism was lagging, and the quality of power projects was poor.

The early winter storms starting in mid January affected the central, south and southwest regions over several weeks, resulting in 151.6 billion yuan (US$22.19 billion) of losses.

During the month long weather chaos that ended in mid February, 36,740 power lines and 2,018 transformer substations broke down.

The May 12 earthquake also cut power from 110 cities and counties across the nation.

(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2008)

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