EDC is trying to unravel power issues in Cambodia.
The Electricity Authority of Cambodia released new long-term projections for ending
electricity shortages, predicting that by 2012 all residences in Phnom Penh will
have enough electricity for normal consumption.
But in the rural areas of most of Cambodia, it will take years longer.
According to Ith Praing, secretary of state at Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy
(MIME), 85 percent of the population in the capital city has power, but nationwide
the figure is 17 percent.
The government expects that all villages in Cambodia will have an electricity connection
by 2020 and 70 percent of households will have electricity by 2030.
In an effort to alleviate national power shortages, Cambodia has been getting electricity
for its northern provinces from neighboring Thailand and Vietnam where electricity
is much cheaper than in Cambodia.
In Phnom Penh private companies and generators supplement the short supply available
from Electricité Du Cambodge.
"We have a problem with the electricity shortage," said Theng Marith, an
official at the regulatory department of the Electricity Authority of Cambodia. He
said Phnom Penh needs another 40 megawatts of electricity to supply a growing population
that expects unlimited use of power.
Marith said that the power consumption has been soaring in Cambodia from year to
year. In 2005 consumption was 160 megawatts. In 2006 it rose to 200 megawatts. In
2007 it was 220 megawatts.
EDC, according to a company official, has capacity to supply roughly 200 megawatts
for the residents in Phnom Penh in the rainy season.
But in the hot season coming up demand will leap to 240 megawatts.
"So we have to cut off some blocks at times," he said. "The power
demand is non-stop," he said.
He said EDC alone produces 35 megawatts.
Praing, at the Industry Ministry, said that in Phnom Penh three companies supply
additional power to EDC.
EDC gets 45 megawatts each from two private companies, Cambodia Electricity Private
and Khmer Electric Power each provide 45 megawatts and Malaysia's Cambodia Utility
Co. provides 30 megawatts.
"We need power sources from neighboring countries," Praing said.
Two other private companies are now installing poles and transmission lines from
Vietnam to Phnom Penh via Takeo province. They expect to complete work by late 2008
or early 2009.
Under agreements with Thailand and Vietnam since 2002, provinces along the borders
such as Mondulkiri, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng, Kampot and Kep have been supplied
by connections from Vietnam.
The provinces to the west and northwest such as Banteay Meanchey, Oddor Meanchey,
Pailin, Koh Kong and Battambang were also connected with low voltage from Thailand.
Last November high voltage electricity began coming across the border from Thailand
to Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Siem Reap.
Praing said the price of electricity from the neighboring countries is cheaper than
local supply, at just 650 riel ($0.16) per kWh, while the local price is between
700 riel ($0.17) to 2,000 riel ($0.50) per kWh. "We have a long term agreement
to buy their electricity for 18 to 25 years," Praing said.
On December 29, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam signed an energy cooperation agreement
aiming to provide electricity from Tay Ninh province of Vietnam to Krek and T'bong
Khmom districts in Kampong Cham province.
Another line is from Champasak province of Laos to Stung Treng.
The $18 million project will start in 2008 and is expected to be completed by 2011.
According to Prime Minister Hun Sen, the government is spending roughly $100 million
per year to subsidize electricity.