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Hotels told to use own power

Hotels told to use own power

State-owned energy supplier Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) has sent letters to some of Phnom Penh’s four- and five-star hotels, asking that they switch to generators between 8am and 9pm this month — a move hotel-industry experts say would have a significant economic impact.

In a letter to a hotel obtained by the Post yesterday, the EDC says it will be able to supply electricity only from 9pm to 8am, Monday to Friday.

On weekends and public holidays, the electricity supply will be normal, it says.

“We have estimated a 30 per cent extra cost for us on our energy bill, which is really a disaster. Electricity is already very expensive in Cambodia,” Sofitel Cambodia area general manager and Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra general manager Charles-Henri Chevet said, adding that the hotel would still able to operate as usual.

“To have an extra 30 per cent cost is really bad and compromises our profitability.”

A statement from Raffles Hotel Le Royal said: “[We] can confirm that we have been asked to run on our internal generators for the month of April from 08.00 – 21.00.”

Although Raffles said this  would not disrupt guest services, it cited concerns about the “significant” economic impact, saying: “It will lead to far higher utility costs.”

Luu Meng, president of the Cambodia Hotel Association, said the EDC letters had been sent to hotels individually.

He said that if generators were used, the fuel would cost almost three times as much as electricity from the EDC.

Stefan Voogel, general manager of the InterContinental Phnom Penh, said the hotel would be able to cope, as it had invested in a new set of generators two years ago.

“[But] of course, running on generators is substantially more costly than running on electricity from the grid. This decision will certainly have an economic impact on the hotel,” Voogel said.

He said, however, that it was difficult to estimate what the costs would be “because it really depends on the price of oil.”

“If the price of oil fluctuates, then of course the impact, the economic impact, to the hotel will increase,” Voogel said.

A source from EDC, who asked not to be named, confirmed that the supplier had sent the letters to hotels.

The letters did not say whether the hotels would be compensated for the higher electricity costs they incurred, the source said.

San Vibol, an energy researcher at Phnom Penh University, said EDC’s move was not an ideal short-term app-roach, as it might dissuade potential investors.

The government should instead look at ways of smoothing the spike in seasonal demand through conservation of household and commercial energy usage, especially by businesses that occupied large buildings, Vibol said.

“There has been no study yet on the energy efficiency of larger buildings. I think they should do this and look at how they [the government] can save [on energy],” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SARAH THUST AND HOR KIMSAY

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