Every evening, somewhere in Phnom Penh, someone is dining in darkness. All over
the city, mid-meal power cuts have become a regular occurrence, as the state
electricity company, Electricité du Cambodge, (EDC) struggles to keep up with
This month, EDC has cut electricity in turn to every district in
Phnom Penh, with the exception of special places such as hospitals, radio and
television stations, and the Council of Ministers.
The blackouts are bad
for business, according to many shop owners, as no one can browse for books or
read a menu in the dark.
Chan Hulz, 25, an employee at Khmer Borane Café
Restaurant on Sisowath Quay near the Royal Palace, said the cuts happened two or
three times a day in his area, and each time the power is off for two to four
Hulz said it is lucky for him that his restaurant has a reserve
generator. "But I pity those shops that have no generator. When the restaurant
or shop has no light, no customers will come in," he said.
Even with the
generator, Hulz only has enough power to run the lights, not the
A 27-year-old Internet-Email shop owner near the Russian
Market in Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang 3, Khan Chamkarmon, said she lost a lot of
customers when the electricity cut because she did not have her own
A 45-year-old women living in the same area said she would
like the government to solve the problem as soon as possible because she could
not sleep when the electricity cut. Her tiny house has no windows, so with the
door shut for security and no fan working it is unbearably hot.
28, an employee for a restaurant in Sangkat Chey Chumnas, Khan Daun Penh, said,
"Even though my shop has a generator, it is not as comfortable as using the
state electricity - it is noisy and smoky and that affects the guests," He said
his restaurant was short on space and he had to put the generator inside the
A senior Electricity Transmission and Distribution official at EDC,
who asked not to be named, said the cuts resulted from increased electricity use
in the city - about a 15 percent rise in the last year.
official, who also declined to be identified, said that this increase had
happened since the price of gasoline got higher. He said when the price of fuel
was cheap, most restaurants and hotels used their own generators. Now, with
rising fuel prices, many had turned to the cheaper state
Currently, EDC can supply an average of 110 megawatts of
electricity, while the demand of people in Phnom Penh at the present is 130MW.
And in the coming hot season months, the demand will increase to 140MW, as
people run fans and air conditioning, the first official said.
things would improve slightly in February after a 10MW machine in the
Japanese-supported fifth electricity factory was repaired, and a new 10MW power
station was established.
It was hoped that by the end of June, Phnom Penh
residents will have enough electricity and the power cuts will sto.
Khmer Electricity Power Station, which now produces 30MW, plans to produce 45MW
by June, and the construction of another new power station, also capable of
producing 45MW, is scheduled to be completed by June, said the
EDC says it is doing its best to minimize the power cuts. "Now
we even use small generators combined with the big ones to supply electricity to
the residents," the official said.