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Clean energy accelerates development in Haixi by Sun Fang, July 29, 2021
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A utility worker inspects electric heating equipment. (Photo courtesy of Qinghai Haixi Electric Power Company)

"The electric company has done a good job improving the power infrastructure in the area over the past two years," Zayafu, deputy mayor of Chaka town, Ulan county, Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province, noted recently. "The villages under our jurisdiction have gained access to reliable electricity, which has promoted industrial development, helped collective economies prosper, and improved the quality of their residents' lives."

Chaka's Bayin village played an important role in the battle against poverty before it emerged from it. Many natives sought work elsewhere, and those who remained relied on small-scale agriculture and herding.

"My wife and I used to grow barley and oilseed rape on 1.3 ha of land,Bayin native Zhao Haishan stated. "We made a little over 2,000 yuan (US$314) a year after deducting overhead and other expenses, which was only enough to cover food and clothing."

Qinghai Haixi Electric Company staff examine power distribution equipment in Bayin village. (Photo courtesy of Haixi Electric Power Company)

"I have had many jobs over the years, including engaging in both skilled and unskilled labor at construction sites, Zhao explained. "My income was much higher than it would have been if I was farming, but I had to leave my hometown. I dreamed of returning and running my own business."

In 2011, the Qinghai government implemented a village demonstration project in Bayin, and the UlanElectric Companyconstructed supporting power facilities. In 2013, 35 Bayin families had the opportunity to move into 120-sq m, two-story residences in Chaka, including Zhao's, which made the household feel more optimistic.

In 2015, Ulan began pursuing ecotourism in order to reduce poverty. With the tailwind of the newly completed Chaka Salt Lake Scenic Area at his back, Zhao was able to finally launch his own bed and breakfast.

"My business generates stable income and is close to my home, which makes it easier to take care of my children and the seniors in our family,Zhao remarked.

The entrepreneur has been especially happy about the upgrades that have been made to Chaka's power infrastructure and the effect that it has had on his family members' lives.

"Electricity flowed in a virtually uninterrupted manner last year, Zhao noted with a smile. "Our appliances have been running very well, we have been getting less complaints from our guests, and business has been improving. We can easily make 100,000 yuan (US$15,720) a year."

In 2019, Bayin emerged from poverty and disposable income rose to 15,484 yuan (US$2,434) per capita. Its residents have also become more concerned with maintaining and enhancing the living environment in the hamlet as it develops.

Qinghai Haixi Electric Company surveyed the situation in the autonomous prefecture's towns and scenic areas, made it possible for them to move away from coal-fired heat and utilize electric heat in line with their overall development plans, established an integrated system in order to promote efficiency, and helped customers prepare for the transition and estimate operating costs. Seventy-four power supply projects have been completed in Haixi and they have generated a total of 49 million kWh's worth of electricity as of December 2020.

In August 2020, the Science and Technology Department of Qinghai Province implemented a clean heating demonstration project in Bayin, which ended the village's reliance on coal-fired heat. The hamlet has been experiencing a magnificent transformation involving both beautification of its ecology and development of its character and disposition.

"Our village used to rely on coal-based heat, which was dirty and dangerous,explained Ma Zhengjin, deputy secretary of Bayin's Party committee. Now we have electric heat, which has made our homes healthier and has helped improve the village's environment. It is safe and convenient, and people can control it with their phones and with timers.