Cambodia’s Biggest Dam Begins Test Operations

The 338-megawatt Chinese-built Lower Russei Chrum River hydropower dam in Koh Kong province has begun operating, a local energy official said this week.

Pich Siyun, director of the Koh Kong provincial mines and energy department, said the dam in Mondol Seima district has been testing operations for about a month, but that the amount of energy being produced had not yet been confirmed by China Huadian, the Chinese company responsible for constructing and operating it.

“It’s been put into testing for approximately a month, but I don’t know how much energy the dam produces,” Mr. Siyun said.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, however, the $500 million dam is already supplying 190 million kilowatt hours of electricity to state electricity provider Electricite du Cambodge, and will sell power to the provider on a 35-year contract.

Mr. Siyun said that the electricity produced at the station would be transmitted to a substation in Pursat province, where it would then be redirected to Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey, Kompong Chhnang and Battambang provinces.

“This is a national electricity network, so the electricity will be connected from one place to another throughout the country,” Mr. Siyun said.

He declined to comment on the price the government was paying for the electricity, referring questions to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, where officials could not be reached.

The electricity has already reached Pursat province, according to provincial Governor Khoy Sokha, who added that electricity poles are being constructed.

“The electricity will be connected to every single village [in Pursat] by 2015,” he said.

According to Xinhua, a company official said that the dam, which has two reservoirs and four generators, was finished nine months ahead of schedule and could supply 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

In February 2013, Prime Minister Hun Sen said a focus on hydropower dam construction would help Cambodia reduce its dependence on oil and ensure nationwide access to electricity at a stable price.

At the time, he said Cambodia obtained about 200 mw of electricity from its three dams; when the Lower Russei is fully operational, it will more than double that figure.

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