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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Capital's power plans coming on line

Capital's power plans coming on line

A new power station has opened in Phnom Penh - the first of several planned to

boost the capital's skeletal electricity system.

The $22 million five

megawatt station, officially opened late last month, will be followed by another

one expected to be completed by the end of the year. Both are funded by Japanese

aid.

They will be a welcome addition to Phnom Penh's four, elderly power

stations, whose combined daily output of 18 megawatts of electricity struggles

to keep up with demand.

The new diesel-run stations, it is hoped, will

reduce the number of power blackouts which have plagued Phnom Penh for

years.

The Minister of Industry, Mines and Electricity, Pou Sothirak,

said the Japanese projects would raise electricity supplies by a third during

the daytime and a quarter at night.

Japanese Ambassador Yukio Imagawa

said both power stations would be sufficient to supply 32,000 families with

electricity 24 hours a day.

They would produce about $13 million worth of

electricity a year-about $8 million of which could be directed into building

small electric power plants in Phnom Penh and the countryside.

Meanwhile,

another, bigger power station is set to come on line late next year, after work

on its construction began this month.

Under the $40 million deal, signed

last September with the Ministry of Energy, a consortium of Malaysian and United

States firms will build and operate the station.

The 35 megawatt,

diesel-powered station is to be built at Chak Ankre, Phnom Penh.

The

government may also be a step closer to seeing the Kamchay hydroelectric dam

project-abandoned after being started by Soviet designers years

ago-completed.

The ministry has signed an agreement with a Canadian

consortium-Hydro-Quebec Internation, Pomerleu International and Experco Ltd-to

investigate ways to finish the construction of the dam.

The $347,000

agreement, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, will see the

consortium launch "pre-feasibility" and "feasibility" studies into the

project.

A further $500,000 may then be invested in preparatory work

before a final contract to finish the dam, expected to cost around $120,000, may

be signed.

If completed, the kamchay dam, in kampot province, could

produce about 120 megawatts of electricity, able to power irrigation systems for

thousands of hectares of rice paddies.

First Prime Minister Prince

Ranariddh, who attended the signing ceremony with the Canadian firms, said the

government wanted to promote hydro-electric power schemes to meet long-term

electricity demands.

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