Stable power supply creates better living conditions for residents in Northwest China’s Xinjiang

Amirjan (right) checks equipment at a hydropower station in Datong Township with his coworker on June 28. Photo by Li Ya’nan/People’s Daily Online

By Li Ya’nan, People’s Daily

Unstable power supply is now a thing of the past in Datong Township, Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, to which a newly built 158.6-kilometer transmission line is sending ceaseless electricity, bringing huge benefits to local residents.

For centuries, candles were the only source of light at night for local Tajik people in the township located in the Pamir Plateau and surrounded by high mountains. Even in recent years, they had to endure the unstable power generated by a small hydropower station and photovoltaic power panels.

“For about two months each year there was no electricity, as the power was generated by the water, which failed every once in a while,” said Amirjan from Datong, who’s also a security guard of the only hydropower station in the township.

Built in 1986,the power station generates power through a dam near a village using the elevation difference between the dam and a river connected to it by a man-made water channel. It has a capacity of only 40 KW, and normally sent electricity to local households at night as it had to reserve the power during the daytime.

 Though the local government has installed photovoltaic power panels for households beyond reach of the hydropower station in the recent couple of years, the power was still unstable and was easily affected by the weather, said Amirjan

Amirjan (left) and his coworker clear away rocks and garbage in a diversion canal of the hydropower station on June 28. Photo by Li Ya’nan/People’s Daily Online

Now, power supply is no longer an issue for Datong, as a 158.6-kilometer transmission line was extended all the way to the township from Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang.

On June 29, a 35KV transformer substation was officially put into service in Datong, marking that the township, the last one in Xinjiang to connect to the national grid, finally had access to stable power supply.

After the township was connected to the power grid, a new modulator tube with higher power was installed for Amirjan by electricians who also checked the pressure and circuits in his house. He turned on the refrigerator that had been kept empty for a long time.

“I unplugged the refrigerator because of the unstable voltage and frequent food spoilage caused by blackouts,” Amirjan told the People’s Daily, adding that now the appliance can get back to work as power supply is no longer a problem.

Thanks to the stable power supply, Amirjan can make milk tea within five minutes with an electric kettle, but in the past, he had to make fire out of wood. Now an induction stove and an electric rice cooker are on his shopping list.

Nearly every household in the township grows hulless barley and wheat, yet the villagers couldn’t grind the grain into flour with mills given the unstable electricity supply, said Amirjan.

The villagers used to feed the grains to chickens or sheep and buy flour at the stores instead, he added. However, the stores need to transport the flour all the way from Yarkant County and normally sell it to the villagers at high prices.

After the township was connected to the power grid, villagers can build mills and use them to grind the grain, which has saved them much money, Amirjan pointed out.

Due to the unstable electricity supply, the equipment in the local clinic had never been used and villagers had to go to other townships over 80 km away for medical examination, said Hazimjan, Amirjan’s brother who works at a local clinic.

With the newly-connected power grid, the equipment could be put into use and allow villagers to take physical examination without going out, Hazimjan continued.

Amirjan is looking forward to the implementation of a coal-to-electricity project  next year. The villagers now burn coals in winter, which is both expensive and smoky, said Amirjan, adding that the local government will introduce electricity-fuelled heating project, a more convenient and clean way for winter heating.


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