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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Chinese factories face power cuts
Man passes electricity transmission equipment at a Chinese relay station
Shanghai's power problems are familiar to other parts of China
Shanghai is to begin rationing power supplies for industrial use on Wednesday as part of efforts to avoid electricity shortages this summer.

Thousands of firms are likely to suspend production or shift output to off-peak hours in the Chinese city.

Public areas like shopping malls will also have to set air-conditioning dials to above 26C (78.8F).

Many cities across China face similar problems as power supplies struggle to keep up with the booming economy.

The result is severe power shortages and widespread blackouts, the BBC's Daniel Griffiths reports.

Peak season

Things are particularly bad in the summer, when extra electricity is needed to power millions of air-conditioning units in the face of soaring temperatures.

A roadside foodstall next to power lines in Shandong province, China

It is thought that the energy problem may cut as much as 2% off nationwide economic growth each year.

Shanghai faces a potential peak demand of 19m kilowatts - about 2m more than the power grid is designed to handle, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reports.

The city has invested in new generators, boosting its generating capacity to 11.4m kWh, while it plans to buy in about 6m from other provinces.

The minimum temperature for air-conditioners will also apply to government buildings, offices, hotels and entertainment venues.

Peak prices for electricity will be raised to 4.5 times off-peak levels, from the usual 3.5 times, to further encourage off-peak use.

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