by Xinhua writers Li Laifang, Lyu Xueli, Luo Xiaofei
XINING, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- China has realized universal power access when the last remote group of 39,800 people became able to light their homes with electricity.
The light came on Wednesday in Gomang and Changjiang villages in the northwestern Qinghai province, the last group in the country without power.
The 9,614 households are at an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters in the remote hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, said Shi Xueqian, Communist Party chief of Qinghai Electric Power Company under the State Grid.
The company spent 2.1 billion yuan (324 million U.S.dollars) and more than 5,000 workers were involved in the operation.
Two thirds of households are connected to the national grid while the rest use photovoltaic devices.
"This means Qinghai has provided power to its whole population and China has fulfilled its goal of providing electricity to all its people set out in the 12th five-year plan (2011-2015)," said Tan Rongyao, a senior official of the National Energy Administration (NEA).
NEW LIFE, NEW HOPE
"Now we have electricity, we no longer need to burn cow dung for heat or use oil lamps for lighting," said Hudong, a herder from Gomang village.
Burning cow dung won't get them through the long, bitter winter, so Hudong and other villagers had to cut forest trees and bring them from 30 km away.
His 16-year-old granddaughter, a junior middle school student, can read books in more light, he said. He bought a TV set several years ago, but it was just ornament before. Now, they can finally watch TV.
The grid access brings new life and hope for local people. Cering said he planned to buy a refrigerator and an electric machine to produce ghee to sell.
"We have been looking forward to having electricity for many years," said Jamyang, a herder. His village began to have power via a photovoltaic station in November.
"Now, at nights in our pasturing area, we can watch TV while drinking tea or eating, instead of going to sleep early as in the past," he added.
Since 2013, Huanghe (the Yellow River) Hydropower Development Co. Ltd has built 261 photovoltaic stations and distributed more than 40,000 household photovoltaic devices in the area, helping 185,000 people to get connected, said Wei Xiangui, deputy general manager of the company.
UNIVERSAL POWER ACCESS
At the end of 2012, China had 2.73 million people without electricity,mainly in Xinjiang, Sichuan, Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu and Inner Mongolia regions or provinces. Qinghai had about 470,000 people of them.
After two years, 2.73 million had dropped to 237,800 and all of them were in Sichuan and Qinghai.
In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed to provide electricity to these last few before the end of the year.
In June, Sichuan province completed its task and 39,800 people in Qinghai became the last without power.
From 2013 to 2015, Qinghai spent 5.1 billion yuan on expanding power access. During the same period, the country invested 24.8 billion yuan (3.8 billion U.S. dollars) in extending power grids and building renewable energy facilities.
The country will upgrade rural grids to improve their operation stability and supply capabilities to meet demands, according to the NEA.