Cambodia's energy minister promised lawmakers from the National Assembly’s public works and energy commission yesterday that the country will be weaned off of foreign electricity imports within three years, the commission’s vice chairman said in a press conference after the meeting.
According to Mao Monyvann, a lawmaker from the opposition party, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem also told the commission that electricity costs will continuously decrease until the Kingdom reaches its goal of a nationwide price of 400 riel (about $0.10) per kilowatt.
“The minister said from 2016, we will gradually discount electricity, and when we have an electricity network across the country, we can set a single national standard.… And he said within three years, we will no longer be dependent on purchases from Vietnam and Thailand,” said Monyvann.
Cambodia’s power grid has been largely dependent on electricity imports from neighbouring countries since the Kingdom was re-established in 1993. Although the state-run electric company Electricité du Cambodge (EdC) managed to produce 1,769 megawatts of power in 2013, the country needed to import 1,691 megawatts from Vietnam, 579 megawatts from Thailand and 10.73 megawatts from Laos to fulfil its energy needs.
Cambodia is expected to generate about 3,430 megawatts by 2020 from 12 hydroelectric and coal power plants, licences for which have already been granted.
The planned dams, however, have come under scrutiny from environmental activists concerned that the projects will damage local ecosystems and threaten livelihoods. Following strong protests, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in February that the controversial Areng hydropower project will not go forward in this mandate.
Despite Sem’s rosy assessment, however, EdC director Keo Rattanak reportedly told soldiers in Oddar Meanchey that the delay to the dam’s construction would prove a setback to electricity development.
While the minister of Mines and Energy and the commission also discussed the draft law on changes to electrical service providers, Monyvann said the content wasn’t changed.
The commission plans to submit the draft law to parliament for approval in April.