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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Put more energy into power supply, firms told

Power lines in Koh Kong province in 2013.
Power lines in Koh Kong province in 2013. Heng Chivoan

Put more energy into power supply, firms told

Cambodia's electricity regulator yesterday urged licence-holding private sector players to hasten the spread of their distribution networks to meet the Kingdom’s target of 100 per cent electrification by 2020.

At a workshop held by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), the regulator’s chairman Ty Norin said 337 companies had been licensed to build distribution channels, outside of state-owned utilities supplier Electricite du Cambodge’s grid.

He said electricity had only reached 66 per cent of villages as of 2015, whereas it should have reached at least 96 per cent of villages using these existing licences.

“Some licence holders have not fulfilled their obligations to build the network as required by the conditions of their licence,” Norin said.

While grid infrastructure creation had matched the planned commitments of license holders until 2009, since then, he said, work has lagged behind the planned target of reaching all villages by 2015.

Norin added that the complete electrification of the country would cost close to $1 billion, a sum the government did not have, which is why the private sector was enlisted to assist in the task.

Speaking at the same event, Energy and Mines Minister Suy Sem said licence holders needed to fulfil their investment obligation for building the infrastructure, or else the authorities would find replacements for them.

“We cannot delay the implementation of the government plan, as under the licence conditions the holder must have enough capital for investment,” he added.

According to Sem, effective March 2016, the government will reduce energy costs to 480 riel per kilowatt hour for Cambodians consuming 10 or less kilowatt hours of energy per month.

In April 2017, it will reduce energy costs to 610 riel per kilowatt hour, down from 850 riel per kilowatt, for people consuming less than 50 kilowatt hours per month of electricity.

If the private players are unable to sell electricity at this rate to rural and low-use consumers, Sem said the government would compensate them for the price difference, provided they produced a valid case for the higher price.

The government would use the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) to support the losses of private distributors, Sem added.

“The REF will fund the loss, but distributors must have accurate reports on their cost of distribution,” he said.

According to statistics released yesterday, Cambodia consumed 1,985 megawatts of electricity last year, of which 1,569 megawatts was locally produced.

Imported energy amounted to 135.5 megawatts from Thailand, 277 megawatts from Vietnam and 4 megawatts from Laos.

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