Some China industrial firms face power limits as heat wave bites

BEIJING, June 5 (Reuters) - Some industrial plants in China are facing limited power access or rationing due to a supply crunch as more than 30 cities in central and northern parts of the country issue heat alerts.

The cities, including Beijing and Tianjin, warned that temperatures could reach more than 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), according to the China Meteorological Administration.

At least three cities - Shanghai, Hefei in Anhui province and Nanning in Guangxi province - have issued power usage plans to tackle possible tight supplies during peak periods, asking companies that are big consumers to stagger and reduce electricity use.

Non-residential consumers will be asked to turn off landscape lighting and cap electricity use for air conditioners during hours when electrical supply is squeezed. Big industrial firms could also be ordered to cut power use by 12 percent or more in some emergency cases, according to the plans.

“The city will stagger electricity consumption among some industrial users as Guangdong province saw a big electricity supply crunch in recent hot days,” said the Shenzhen division of grid operator China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd in two statements last week.

Shenzhen saw its highest temperatures reaching more than 37C on Thursday and Friday.

High coal prices have also stirred concerns over fuel shortages at coal-fired power plants despite Beijing’s efforts to cool the red-hot market.

The most-traded thermal coal futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange reached a peak of 640.4 yuan ($99.90) a tonne on Friday, much higher than the “safe zone” for coal prices set by the state planner at less than 570 yuan.

As of 1:50 p.m. (0550 GMT), Tianjin city had lifted its heat alert to red, the highest level of a three-colour system, as the city expects maximum temperature could rise beyond 40C later on Tuesday, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

$1 = 6.4065 Chinese yuan Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue