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Chinese border region plugs in to help ease power crunch

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URUMQI, June 25 (Xinhua) -- A new power transmission line will be used to link northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with areas that are facing a possible electricity shortage, power grid officials said Monday.

Xinjiang's high-voltage DC transmission network will be extended to the region's Kazak autonomous prefecture of Ili by September, according to officials from the State Grid's Xinjiang Electric Power Company.

Ili is a significant source for coal in Xinjiang and has abundant supplies of electricity. However, the area's remote location and poor facilities make it difficult to send electricity to other regions where it is needed more.

The 410-km extension project, which runs from Ili to Manas near the regional capital of Urumqi, is estimated to cost at least 2.1 billion yuan (331 million U.S. dollars). Construction on the project started in December 2011.

The Xinjiang Electric Power Company plans to spend 10.2 billion yuan on six power transmission projects in the region this year. The current network now links Urumqi, Manas, and Korla in Xinjiang to power-hungry areas in central and east China.

Central and east China have dealt with worsening power shortages in recent years, prompting authorities to expedite the construction of long-distance power transmission lines to retrieve power from remote but energy-rich northwestern regions.

Xinjiang provided east China with about 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) of electricity in 2011, the Xinjiang Electric Power Company said.

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