Cambodia and Vietnam May Build Joint Hydroelectric Plant

The Cambodian government and Vietnam’s state electricity company met this week to discuss plans to jointly build a hydroelectric plant in either Stung Treng or Ratanakkiri province, officials said.

“If we begin to think about this from now, it will take 10 years to be complete,” said Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

Officials are looking to build the power plant on either the Sre-Kong or Sre-Pok river in Stung Treng, or on the Se San river in Ratanakkiri. The proposed plant, they said, would help Cambodia lower its notoriously high electricity costs and give Vietnam, which is worried about an electricity shortage in 10 years, another energy source.

Both countries now plan to take two to three years to conduct a feasibility study and design plans for the power plant. The 200 megawatt plant would cost $400 million and is expected to be completed in 10 years, officials said. They plan to seek funding for the plant from donor countries or in­ternational banks.

“The Mekong, Se San and Sre-Pok rivers have a lot of potential in hydropower,” Ith Praing said.

Cambodia has some of the highest electricity costs in the developing world, deterring foreign investors and cutting the profit margins of local businesses.

The planned hydroelectric plant comes on the heels of an Asian Development Bank loan of

$44.3 million approved in De­cember for the government to construct a 110 km electricity transmission line from Vietnam to Phnom Penh. Plans direct the line to feed electricity into towns along its path and for several electricity substations to be constructed.

Nguyen Thanh Duc, the press attache at the Vietnamese Em­bassy, said the hydroelectric plant would likely be built on the Se San river in Ratanakkiri. Plans for the plant may stall if fund­ing proves difficult to attract, he added.

“Right now it’s too soon to think about when construction will start,” he said.


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