China increases power prices

China, the world's second-biggest energy user, raised electricity prices to households and businesses for the first time in more than a year to help power companies offset the higher cost of coal.

The increases average 25 yuan ($3.13) per megawatt-hour, the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner, said today.

China sets power prices to shield households and manufacturers from increased energy costs and to control inflation. The government is gradually allowing power generators to charge more to help cover the cost of coal that has soared amid economic growth exceeding 10 percent. Higher prices may help generators to buy equipment to cut pollution in a country where coal-burning plants produce two-thirds of the electricity.

Huaneng Power said the largest increase in its prices was in the eastern province of Shandong, where tariffs rose to 381.4 yuan per megawatt-hour. It raised prices in Guangdong, a manufacturing hub for China, by as much as 6.2 percent to 497.71 yuan per megawatt-hour。

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