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Two hydro plants open in M'kiri

TWO micro hydropower plants began supplying electricity to underserved rural areas in Mondulkiri province late last month, an official at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy told the Post last week.

The two plants, funded by a US$10 million grant from Japan, operate around the clock and can produce 180 kilowatts of electricity per hour, said Victor Jona, deputy director general of the ministry's General Directorate of Energy.

"In the future, we will build more of these hydropower plants in the country to expand the electricity available to rural people," he said.

Jona said they had identified hundreds of places in the Kingdom where hydropower plants that could produce at least 100 kilowatts of electricity per hour could be built, and 30 places in which plants that could produce between 20 megawatts and 2,000 megawatts of electricity per hour could be built.

Jona said officials hope to supply electricity to 70 percent of the rural population by 2030 and cited plans to build between 20 and 30 plants.

"Currently, only 20 percent of rural people have access to electricity, whereas the other 80 percent are accessing battery power," he said.

Kong Pisith, director of Mondulkiri's Department of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the opening of the two plants last month would enable 1,600 households to access electricity costing 1,600 riel ($0.40) per kilowatt.

He said the demand for electricity would be significant in the long term and called for investors to finance the construction of more hydropower plants. 

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