Plans to link Hong Kong and Kowloon power supplies are unlikely to be implemented until 2008, according to the Government. The delay angered lawmakers, who accused officials of protecting businesses at the expense of customers' interests. Households were warned of higher tariffs after Hongkong Electric was allowed to expand capacity on Lamma Island to meet future demand on Hong Kong Island. But lawmakers argued the expansion could have been avoided if excess power from the Kowloon supplier, CLP Power, was absorbed through bridging the two networks. Acting Secretary for Economic Services Maria Kwan Sik-ning yesterday said the Government was determined to link the two, but more technical studies were needed. 'People might think it's just putting a wire across. But it's not that simple,' she told the Legco economic services panel. Preliminary studies show interconnection can be made by laying cables on the seabed between Yau Ma Tei and Central. Impact on marine and road traffic had to be carefully considered. As construction took about five years, Ms Kwan hoped to map out the full plan by 2003, after completing technical studies by the middle of next year. Hongkong Electric managing director Tso Kai-sum had reservations about interconnection. He said the existing emergency connection cable with CLP had proved unreliable. But CLP managing director Michael Price said the emergency cable worked properly and he supported the interconnection proposal. Lee Wing-tat of the Democrats said the delay until 2008 showed the Government had yielded to the companies, which guaranteed a specific rate of profit until then. 'The message is clear. CLP wants to give away the excess supply but HK Electric, protected by the scheme of control, doesn't want it. That's why we have to wait until 2008.' Non-affiliated Eric Li Ka-cheung said: 'This is plain excuse. The Government can build a Disneyland and a Cyber-Port within years, why does it take eight years to study such a simple matter?' Ms Kwan said the Government would have to ensure interconnection would not create trouble. 'We can't afford to see a power failure, be it one hour or one minute. I think no one will accept this.' She admitted the Government could not force Hongkong Electric to accept interconnection, but stressed it had not bowed to its pressure. She said officials would also explore securing electricity from Shenzhen to strengthen competition.