B’bang Residents Complain of Surprise Electric Bill Spikes

Battambang residents complain that their electric bills have shot up, even though they say they have used relatively little power—a phenomenon that angers and perplexes the residents.

Several Battambang town residents said their bills from the state-run power company Electricite du Cambodge have steadily in­creased—even when they are ab­sent from their homes.

Tith Chamroeun, who lives in Chamkar Somroang II village in Battambang town, said her bill has been increasing since April. The worst was May and June, when her bill peaked at 40,000 riel ($10) and 70,000 riel ($17.50) respectively.

Another villager, Sok Vin, said his bill remained constant even when he was away from home.

Provincial Second Deputy Governor Pa Socheatevong on Tuesday said residents who have complaints like these should go to the province’s Electricity De­part­ment office to discuss the problem.

Besides claiming they are being charged for more kilowatt-hours than they actually use, the villagers complain that the price of one kwh has risen from 900 riel ($0.23) in 1999 to 1,030 riel ($0.26) today.

“Please lower the price of electricity, because sometimes we cannot afford it,” Tith Chamroeun said. Her home, she says, uses about 40 kwh per month.

Lim Bunthan, director of the provincial Electricity Department, acknowledged that there are some technical glitches with local electric meters. “It is a technical problem,” he said. “We promise we have no intention to make the meters run faster.”

Residents whose meters be­have abnormally should go to the office and ask to have their meters checked, he said. He blamed the problem on amateur electrical workers who fix people’s wiring for less than professionals.

“Sometimes they connect the electrical wires by themselves, and it is not in compliance with electrical technique,” Lim Bunthan said, adding that the problem was compounded by ancient Soviet-made meters and wires.

Next year, Electricite du Cam­bodge will install four more generators in Battambang town, to ex­pand the area over which it provides power to a 10-km radius around the city, he said.


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