Deregulation and decentralization in the electricity sector have thrived worldwide since the early 1980s. China also started restructuring its electricity industry since the mid-1980s. The reform shares many common features with restructuring practices in other countries and exhibits some unique characteristics as well. To some extent, two features, namely governmental administrative departments’ dual role of government and business inherited from a highly centralized planned economy, and the coal-intensive nature of power generation, has determined many aspects of the evolution of China's electric power sector. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive account of the process with some emphasis on recent developments. We also identify some of the features that are similar to electricity market reforms in other countries and, most importantly, those that characterize the uniqueness of the restructuring practices in China's electricity industry through investigating the administrative framework, price and investment mechanisms, and associated legislation and policy settings at each of the five stages in the evolution of the electric utility sector. The paper concludes with a discussion and summary of some generic characteristics and remaining challenges.
CSS Publication Number:
Chunbo, Ma and Lining He. 2009. From state monopoly to renewable portfolio: Restructuring China's electric utility. Energy Policy 36(5): 1697-1711.