context: Despite Beijing’s efforts to boost coal supply, coal prices have continued to balloon. Power cuts were hitting the Northeast in September 2021 and continue due to tight supply and high demand. Energy use for heating will peak during the winter months, especially in the cold Northeast.

NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) will introduce several measures in the coming months to ensure people have an adequate power supply in winter and spring, a member of the NDRC’s Bureau of Economic Operations and Regulations told reporters on 29 Sep 2021. The official assured reporters that the government has the capacity to fully respond to peoples’ energy demands without resorting to power suspensions in spite of rising international prices, including in the Northeast areas during the peak heating season. Individual usage, he noted, only makes up about 20 percent of total electricity use and less than 50 percent of total gas use.

NDRC will strictly regulate the supply and demand of energy resources, in particular coal, gas and electricity, focusing on

  • multi-channel increases in energy resources
    • increased coal production
    • increased coal imports
    • stable imports of gas from the Central Asian pipeline
  • medium- and long-term contracts with suppliers
    • sign comprehensive annual and heating season gas supply contracts to lock in resources early
  • encouraging orderly energy usage
    • developing local usage programmes and ensuring their implementation
    • listing a number of enterprises whose power supply can be temporarily suspended if needed, allowing local governments to maintain individual consumers’ power supply
  • energy reserves
    • urging power plants to raise coal stocks before the heating season
    • speeding up the construction of emergency reserves
    • ensuring full power storage in facilities before winter
    • promoting green energy generation
  • ensuring price stability in accordance with energy enterprises’ production and operating costs
    • strengthening market supervision, strictly dealing with price inflation and other irregularities
  • controlling unreasonable energy demands
    • curbing unreasonable demands by industries with high pollution and overcapacity rates
    • promoting coal saving in major industries