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  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 5:15am
NewsHong Kong

Power bills set to rise as Hong Kong cleans up polluted air

Government suggests buying more mainland electricity or using more natural gas for local production, but both will see costs double

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 March, 2014, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2014, 8:58am

Higher electricity bills are in store no matter which of two proposals disclosed yesterday is adopted by the government as part of efforts to clean up the city's air.

Both options - buying more power from the mainland or increasing the proportion of cleaner fuel used by Hong Kong's power stations - would double production costs, environment officials said.

The options were outlined in a consultation paper released by the government yesterday on ways to revamp the "fuel mix" of the city's power supply.

The proposals come against a background of surging power demand, tipped to grow from 43 billion kilowatt-hours in 2012 to 50 billion in 2023.

Meeting this demand would be challenging as an unspecified number of old coal-fired generation units would be phased out, the paper said.

Under one option, known as "grid purchase", up to half the city's power demand would be met by imports from the mainland by 2023. Thirty per cent, or 15 billion kWh, would come from the China Southern Power Grid and the rest from nuclear generation, according to the paper.

The other, dubbed "local generation", would make gas the dominant fuel for power generation, its proportion almost tripling to 60 per cent. The share of coal would be lowered from 53 per cent to almost 20 per cent, with the rest mainly nuclear imports.

Officials said the annual cost of generation under both options would be double the average between 2008 and 2012, but could not estimate at this stage how much charges would have to rise.

They refused to disclose estimates of the investment required in both options as they might "confuse the public", but said the import option might be costlier in terms of capital expenditure, while the local option might expose Hong Kong more to global natural gas price fluctuations.

Environment Secretary Wong Kam-sing said the government would ensure that the price of imported power remained affordable and comparable to that of local power.

"An underlying principle is that the imported price should not be higher than the price of locally generated power," he said, adding that price-setting might involve cross-border governments apart from just the city's two power companies.

Wong dismissed concerns about the unreliability of mainland supplies, saying the imports would account for only about two per cent of the mainland grid's supply.

Officials cited Macau, where 90 per cent of power was from the mainland. The reliability of power in Macau was on a par with Hong Kong's, they said.

But an industry source said the comparison was not accurate, as demand in Hong Kong was greater and the price in Macau was higher. A spokesman for CLP Power said it would provide the public with information about the options to assist discussions and submissions.

"It will be important to make sure that consumers understand the impact on supply reliability and cost implications of the options put forward for the fuel mix," he said.

Hongkong Electric said it "believes it is important to have a clear vision on the future fuel mix for Hong Kong, so as to enable the company to better plan for future development".



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This article is now closed to comments

Maybe if some of the over the top lighting in Hong Kong was toned down or turned off or those using this totally unnecessary light polluting energy wasting resource were hit with additional costs the domestic user may be spared additional expense
Interesting. Why is demand expected to rise so much? The article doesn't say. We are supposed to take it as fact (as we are supposed to take the HK government's population projections and need for extra motorways and bridges as fact). If the government and utilities promoted energy conservation, we could see an actual reduction in demand. Why does HK not require all new buildings to be highly energy efficient? Why not require windows to be double glazed? Why not create a large scale system to use harbor water to cool more buildings rather than air conditioning? (This has and is being done in other cities). There is so much scope for conservation. Typical of HK government and its 'partners'. It would rather build more rather than conserve.
Natural gas prices in the U.S. have fluctuated on an index scale from roughly 100 to 400 since 2002. If this study was made using global benchmarks for gas prices, it would have been difficult to determine which option is cheaper. (incidentally, prices are back close to where they were in 2002 now). To say that production costs will "double," a set price for gas was probably used.
Could this study be preparing the ground for sourcing gas at stable but inflated prices from a mainland supplier?
What type of energy we are getting doesn't make much difference to our air quality as most of the pollutants comes from Guandong. Please just give me more of the cheapest and cleanest energy available (nuclear).
As we know the worst air levels are at the roadside stations and this is of course caused by traffic pollution. So here we go again the poor or struggling middle people have to pay to clean up our city whose pollution is caused by about 2-4% of selfish ignorant private car owners who think they gain great face in their fat metal carriages sitting in traffic jams and dirtying our city including those fat cat polititions who drive around in their plush vehicles.
Awnser Ban car ownership, build green parks instead of roads. Simple isn't it? Will it happen? Will it hell!
Make me sick just thinking about it.
And as for all our tax dollars spent on massive insane pro justs ( zhuhai bridge anyone? )
Time to bring these b.......s down
Take back the streets
Take back Hong Kong for the people
Stand by the Peak Tram station and watch the up hill traffic.
It not the private cars as much as the 15yr old diesel vans, trucks and private busses that spew out black fumes from their tail pipes. This oily soot clings to the walls and aircon ducts of every office from Kennedy Town to Chai Wan, and inhaled by its occupants.
When working in Central, I was shocked at how quickly the wallpaper blackened.
Here is an easy test - spray kitchen cleaner on a narrow section of office wall then clean it off with a paper towel. The difference in adjacent colours is due to vehicle pollutants.
The residue left on the towel also shows what is in your lungs.
I will be very happily paying more for electricity (even double although I think this is scaremongering by interested parties) if we get cleaner air.
Well, I do like to pay more for our blue sky. But I think the solution is not likely to be that simple. First, coal is the main fuel in mainland to generate power. Still, the pollutants produced in the process of burning coal will cover our city. The air pollution in HK maybe more severe if mainland burn more coal for the sake of providing extra power for us. Second, it is not okay to buy power from mainland in political stand. Most of us want a true democracy, whatever how you explain and interpret the meaning of 'true democracy' it is not a good topic to central government. The central government can be more easy to suppress associated social activities and rallies if it control most of our daily needs, electricity, food and water supply.
John Adams
But a question.... how far would that $8.2 BILLION and the associated land value (another $30 + BILLION ? ) wasted on the Kai Tak cruise terminal have gone towards starting to clean up our air five years ago ?
Or to put it another way : which is more important to our government ?
A handful of cruise ship tourists every month or clean air for 7 million HK inhabitants every day of the year ?
PS : Sorry - I forgot . Donald Tsang answered that question 5 years ago. Silly me !
John Adams
Good !
Much better higher power bills and clean air to breathe than vice versa




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