China Cuts Power to Factories, Homes as Reservoirs Fall

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
August 19, 2022 Updated: August 19, 2022

BEIJING—Factories in China’s southwest have shut down and a city imposed rolling blackouts after reservoirs to generate hydropower ran low in a worsening drought, adding to economic strains.

Companies in Sichuan province including makers of solar panels, cement, and urea closed or reduced production after they were ordered to ration power for up to five days, according to news reports Wednesday. That came after reservoir levels fell and power demand for air conditioning surged in scorching temperatures.

In Sichuan, which has 94 million people, water levels at hydropower reservoirs are down by as much as half this month, according to the Sichuan Provincial Department of Economics and Information Technology.

The power company in Dazhou, a city in Sichuan with 3.4 million people, imposed 2.5-hour power cuts this week and expanded that Wednesday to three hours, according to the Shanghai news outlet The Paper. The newspaper Securities Times said office buildings in Chengdu, the provincial capital, were told to shut off air conditioning.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares (acres) of crops across central and northern China wilted due to lack of water and high temperatures, according to local authorities. Some areas reported the summer growing season a failure.

The weather agency has warned temperatures in some areas could spike to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

A subsidiary of Guoguang Co., Ltd. that makes pesticide and fertilizer closed from Monday through at least Saturday, according to a company announcement through the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Makers of solar power equipment in Sichuan including Tongwei Solar Co. Ltd. and GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. said they received notices to ration power.

Tongwei said the “power cut and production shutdown have not had much impact,” the business news outlet East Money reported.

China faced similar strains last year when Guangdong province in the southeast, one of the world’s most important manufacturing centers, ordered factories to shut down after hydropower reservoirs ran low due to sparse rain.

“Some small- and medium-size rivers are so dry that they have stopped flowing,” a report by state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Meanwhile, authorities warned some parts of the country face possible flooding from heavy rains forecast in areas from the northwest across Inner Mongolia to the northeast.