China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd will invest 131.2 billion yuan ($19.1 billion) to upgrade rural electric power grid, prioritizing poverty stricken areas, during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).
The upgrades, which aim to meet demand from both agriculture and household consumption, will help address problems such as low voltage and insufficient supply, and the investment is up by 30% compared with the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, it said.
In addition to low power voltage and insufficient power supply, some lines and equipment in rural areas have serious aging problems.
Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of China Energy Net Consulting Co, said power suppliers were reluctant to build power infrastructure in mountainous areas in the past, including Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.
"The cost of building power lines is much higher than the electricity earnings, since not many people live in those regions," he said.
Upgrading the power grid has improved the living conditions of rural farmers and effectively promoted the economic development of rural areas, especially for small and micro businesses, as well as the manufacturing sector and high-quality rural tourism.
The power network upgrade has enabled these regions with access to electricity, adding fuel to develop the local economy, Han said.
China Southern Power Grid's investment has reached 65.2 billion yuan so far, accounting for half of the planned investment in the five-year period.
The Guangzhou-based company is responsible for the investment, construction and management of power transmission, transformation and distribution in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, as well as Guangdong, Guizhou, Yunnan and Hainan provinces.
The five provincial-level areas cover 790,000 square kilometers, with 160 million permanent residents.
In the past two years, the company has made great efforts in promoting the automated power distribution, full coverage of smart meters and the construction of communication for distribution systems.
Since 2016, China Southern Power Grid has built and upgraded 169 transformer substations, 37,000 kilometers of power lines, 30,000 distribution transformers as well as electricity meters for 6.69 million households.
By September, the company had pushed forward full coverage of power supply for 4,709 motor-pumped well facilities in villages, which have provided water to more than 66,000 hectares of farmland and reduced the cost of irrigation by 70%.
As a result, the stable rate of power supply in rural areas has reached 99.75% and the average blackouts have been reduced to 21.9 hours annually, down by nine hours since 2015.
Since 2016, in rural areas with upgraded and newly built power grids, people have purchased 1.25 million air conditioners, 861,000 refrigerators, 787,000 washing machines, 747,000 TV sets, 1.08 million electric cooking appliances and 155,000 items of electric processing equipment, with a total value amounting to 4.63 billion yuan.
(Writing by William Gao Editing by Tammy Yang)
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