An official with China's Electricity Council said coal supplies used in power generation continue to be tight.

Xue Jing, director of the statistics and information department of the China Electricity Council, told China Daily, The supply of coal, which fuels over two-thirds of China's power plants, is still tense nationwide, causing big pressure for the country's power plants as well as the total power supply in the country.

Xue predicted that coal supplies will continue to face difficult times, especially this summer, which is China's highest energy consumption period.  For instance, it was reported that Shandong Province, which usually has enough coal in reserves for at least 15 days of operation, only had reserves to accommodate 12 days.

To ensure coal supplies, the nation exported less coal in the first five months of the year for a total of 18.5 million tons, a 4% drop from the same period last year. Nevertheless, the value of the export coal rose 48.3 percent to $1.68 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Limited transportation availability and limitations on mine production also contributed to the shortage, Xue said.

The National Development and Reform Commission said coal prices will be brought under temporary government control because the soaring coal price is the main factor behind increased electricity charges. Xue told China Daily that in some regions coal prices have increased by as much as 100 yuan per ton (US$14.59 per ton).

However, urban and rural residents and the farming and fertilizer sectors were exempted from the increased electricity charges as well as areas in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu that were hit by the massive May 12th Chinese earthquake.