Beijing is unlikely to launch a two-tier tariff system until 2004 at the earliest, according to CLSA. In its latest research report on the mainland's power industry, the brokerage said it came to that opinion after visiting key power firms. 'With power pooling seen as only successful in two of the six provinces, there was much scepticism on technical grounds as to whether it made sense to expand the pooling to other regions in anything other than the very long term,' the report said. The two-tier system is a transitional measure mooted by Beijing to lessen the impact on power producers expected with open market bidding. The plan would result in lower power prices as producers will be able to sell electricity to regions other than their home markets. The system consists of a capacity payment charged according to a plant's capacity and an energy payment - a variable based on successful bid volume.