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Conservation campaign

Electricity du Cambodge wants city households to voluntarily cut down on their power consumption.

The nation’s state-run power utility is calling on the citizens of Phnom Penh to take voluntary measures to conserve electricity.

A statement issued by Electricity du Cambodge (EdC has asked all of its customers in the capital city, particularly household users, to try to reduce the amount of power being used unnecessarily.

Conservation measures are necessary, the statement said, as current energy supplies are insufficient to meet demand by about 20 megawatts (MW) per day.

Most Phnom Penh residents have experienced power outages at some point, but the electricity shortages have had some of the keenest impacts on the operations of small businesses.

“The blackouts cause problems for us,” said Chhun Touch Leang, manager of the Java Café and Gallery. “When the power goes off, the fridges also go off, and so lots of the food goes bad. It’s also bad for the customers if it happens at night. There’s no light, so we have to use candles.”

While the EdC statement does not set a specific target for the amount of electricity it expects to save through voluntary conservation measures, EdC director general Keo Rattanak said the utility was conducting an “awareness campaign.”

Noting the high cost of electricity for consumers, Keo Rattanak said the aim of the campaign was “to help consumers realise the steps they can take to save energy and money” over a long periods of time.  He admitted, however, that the measures “will not change people’s behaviour overnight.”

A number of educational pamphlets would be distributed to consumers free of charge as part of the campaign in order to give them information about how to more efficiently use their electrical appliances, he said.

Seven power-saving measures would be stressed, including the suggestion that air conditioning only be used when people are sleeping and not at other times during the day.

To ensure that Phnom Penh has sufficient power in the short-term, Keo Rattanak said two short-term solutions had been put in place.

“We are buying 10 MW of power from an additional generator in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone,” he said. “On a smaller scale, we are getting 5 MW from the Souvanna Phoum coal plant, although this plant has the capacity to provide us with an additional 7 MW.”

In the medium-term, EdC was building a power grid from the Vietnam border to Phnom Penh, funded by a loan from the World Bank. This would enable power to be brought in from Vietnam to compensate for electricity shortages in Phnom Penh.

Construction of this grid would not be finished this year due to technical delays, Keo Rattanak said, necessitating conservation measures. Longer- term solutions would include a national power grid and more new power plants in Cambodia itself, he added, pointing to a hydroelectric facility currently under construction in Sihanoukville.



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