Date
17 December 2017
Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing says importing electricity form mainland China is the first step in opening up Hong Kong's power market.  Photo: HK Government
Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing says importing electricity form mainland China is the first step in opening up Hong Kong's power market. Photo: HK Government

Govt leaning toward power imports from China

Hong Kong is pressing ahead with a planned liberalization of its electricity market despite a divided public opinion.

The government said importing power from the mainland is the first step in the process, Apple Daily reported Tuesday, citing Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing, 

However, he said the government is open to ideas about the best way forward.

Energy Advisory Committee chairman Raymond So said consumers will still have to pay the incumbent utilities even after Hong Kong imports power from the mainland.

That would mean the intended market opening would be a half-measure, he said.  

Also, prospective new players in the domestic market are likely to balk at the high cost of building and maintaining power grids, Sky Post reported.

Undersecretary for the Environment Christine Loh said any new entrants are likely to be Chinese companies fleeing overcapacity in the mainland.

Hong Kong should ramp up domestic power supply before resorting to imported electricity as happens in other markets, Apple Daily said, citing Greenpeace China senior campaigner Prentice Koo.

The government is proposing two plans for power supply — one is buying 30 percent of Hong Kong electricity consumption from China Southern Power Grid Co. Ltd., the other is importing natural gas to fill 60 percent of its needs.   

The imports will be in addition to nuclear power from Daya Bay which will cover 20 percent of consumption. The rest will come from coal and renewable energy.

Wong said he will seek guarantees regarding the stability of power supply if the government decides to buy power from the mainland.

Chinese electricity has a reliability rating of 99.99 percent as in the case of Macau which buys power from the mainland, according to Apple Daily.

Earlier, Canning Fok, chairman of Power Assets Holdings Ltd. (00006.HK) which supplies Hong Kong Island and Lamma, criticized the plan to import power from the mainland, saying Hong Kong could lose pricing power.

Also, he said Chinese power is less reliable than Hong Kong electricity, is more expensive and less environmentally friendly.

A public consultation on the proposal will end in mid-June.

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Ayishah Ma is a financial reporter on Greater China issues.

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