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Hun Sen asks Vietnam to supply more power

Hun Sen asks Vietnam to supply more power

Officials estimate electricty demand will rise 50 percent by 2010

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has requested Vietnam fulfill its agreement with the Kingdom and double its electricity output to the capital.

“I just wrote a letter to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung because we have a contract with Vietnam to supply 200 megawatts to Phnom Penh,” Hun Sen said Thursday, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of National Road 78 in Ratanakkiri Province.

“At that moment, they can only supply us with 100 megawatts,” he said. “That leaves 100 megawatts more, which I want to get.”

Hun Sen discussed increasing power to Cambodia with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi in May 2009. At the time, Cambodia was drawing 90MW of power from Vietnamese suppliers.

The government estimates Cambodia will need to draw 400MW of power by 2010, 50 percent more than is currently available.

In issuing an annual assessment last week, Energy Minister Suy Sem said the surge in demand was coming from new buildings, factories and homes.

Much of the additional supply is expected to come from Vietnam, which was only supplying 23 percent of electricity imported into Cambodia in 2008 but now supplies about a quarter of Cambodia’s total demand.

Last year, the Kingdom purchased 226.76 billion kilowatt-hours from Thailand for US$19 million, and 500.74 billion kWh from Vietnam for $40 million, according to Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy data.

Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC) State Controller Hav Ratanak said this week Cambodia drew 100MW from Vietnamese power supplies in 2009, a figure he would like to see double. EDC’s customer base rose 56 percent from 2005 to 2009, he said.

Cambodia’s electricity goals for the next five years include promoting more power imports from neighbouring countries, building its own power sources, connecting the power grid from source to urban areas and building more transmission lines across the country.

For now, Vietnam is facing its own electricty shortages, said Trinh Ba Cam, a spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

“I don’t know for sure that Vietnam’s electricity authority has the ability to produce enough for sale to Cambodia,” he said.

The impact of a 100MW shortfall on agreed energy provision is also being considered by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), which sets national pricing.

The energy shortfall, for now, is not going to affect prices for home consumers, Ty Thany, director of price setting at the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), said Thursday.

“We will keep a fixed price for households,” he said. “We will just get electricity shortages.”

EAC may seek to buy electricity from other sources at higher prices in order to meet demand, he said.

Based on EDC’s tariffs, which factor in the cost of energy production in pricing for commercial and industrial customers, energy produced at higher financial rates results in increased bills for the private sector.

Hun Sen said Thursday that Cambodia’s power problems will be a thing of the past once the Kingdom’s hydroelectric dams are in place.

“Please don’t forget when Cambodia develops Sesan and Sre Pok hydroelectricity dams ... Vietnam will buy from Cambodia because it requires a lot of energy,” he said.

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