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Major Chinese power firms post weak '08 output

China's Yangtze Electric Power Co, operator of the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam, said on Thursday it generated just 0.7% more electricity in 2008 than in 2007, providing further evidence of a pullback in demand by industrial users amid a slowing economy.

The company did not explain the data, but the growth in its output slowed sharply from a 23% rise in 2007.

Yangtze Power, which shares Three Gorges output with its state-owned parent, China Three Gorges Project Corp, produced 44.28 billion kilowatt hours in 2008, it said in a statement published in the official Shanghai Securities News.

China's biggest power provider, Huaneng Power, said its total domestic power generation rose 6.3% to 184.63 billion kwh in 2008. The growth slowed from 13% in 2007.

And Guodian Power said its electricity output fell 1.06% to 60.43 billion kwh in 2008.

“Hit by factors including a short supply of coal, machinery maintenance and (weakening) electricity demand, some enterprises (of our company) saw their output fall to a different extent in the year,” Guodian said.

A source told Reuters on Wednesday that China's power generation fell more than 6% in December from the year-ago period, its third monthly decline in a row as government efforts to boost the economy by investing heavily in infrastructure failed to revive industrial activity.

The unexpectedly sharp decline in power generation from the world's No. 2 user, including a 7% year-on-year fall in November that was the biggest drop for a non-holiday month on record, has contributed to growing concerns about the economy.

It pushed many major Chinese power mills, such as Huaneng, into the red in the first three quarters of 2008, with analysts forecasting that most will not be able to reverse their losses at least until the end of the first quarter of this year. (Reuters)