Following various complaints from Phnom Penh residents about surges in their electricity bills despite unaltered usage patterns and frequent blackouts, the state electricity body issued an announcement on Tuesday warning staff that they will be fired if caught recording the wrong number on electric meters.
Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) “is a national institution and it does not have a policy to exploit customers for the state. Employees who make mistakes will be penalised in due form of law including an immediate dismissal from the institution,” according to the state-owned company’s announcement signed by director-general Keo Rattanak.
EdC further clarified that while consumption usually skyrockets from April to June, the company has not altered any of the electric meters distributed across Cambodia.
All the meters, they said, are running in accordance with standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
“Last month, we had a blackout for more than 10 days but our electric meter had a higher than normal number, and when we got our bill, we saw that it was nearly double our usual power use,” said Chbar Ampov district resident Koe Thaon, adding that they have also refrained from using power-sucking devices in their home.
“I have already paid the bill. However, I will check next month if it increases, and if it does I will complain in front of the EdC.”
The company is encouraging customers to bring complaints to nearby EdC offices so that they can be investigated.
The power surges, EdC executive director Ty Thany said on Friday, could be due to faulty wiring, or to “meters [that] are too old to use”.
In their statement, the company maintained that none of the meters were tampered with.
“The meters have not been altered . . . and the payment that customers made for the kilowatts they didn’t consume will be deductible in next month’s bill,” the announcement read.
EdC said that it welcomed clients, independent organisations and political parties to inspect its meter system management.
To “ensure more transparency with customers,” it has also requested a third-party organisation, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, inspect its electric meter centre.
Some of the complainants took to social media and said that if their bills rise in the next months, they will protest against EdC.
EdC director-general Rattanak refused to comment on the allegations.