Chinese Firms Approved To Build Four Dams

The National Assembly ap­proved deals with two Chinese companies Tuesday for the construction of four hydroelectric dams in Koh Kong province—in­vest­ments together worth more than $1 billion, officials said Wednesday.

Two dams will be built in Koh Kong district’s Tatay commune and two more in Thmar Baing district’s Russei Chrum commune, said Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

“We will have enough electricity to use in the whole country by 2014,” Ith Praing said of the benefit to the country from the deals with the firms.

“All kinds of people, businessmen and investors, will be at ease after we have sufficient electricity,” he said.

The Assembly approved a $540 million deal for the dams in Tatay with China National Heavy Ma­chinery, which will sell the electricity to the government at $0.0745 per kilowatt, he said. The other deal, worth $495 million, was signed for the two dams in Russei Chrum with the Michelle corporation, also Chinese-owned, which will sell pow­er to the state’s utility firm for $0.0735 per kilowatt, Ith Praing said.

Construction should start in late 2009 or early 2010, he added.

“Since it is a tough investment, it takes a long time, effort, and much money to achieve. It has to be a 42-year concession [to provide electricity] in Tatay and 35 years in Russei Chrum, including five years spent on construction,” CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said.

The power generated by the new dams will be distributed in Phnom Penh and Pursat and Bat­tambang provinces, he added.

The agreements specify that the government is responsible for paying the power bill to the two Chi­nese companies if Electricite du Cambodge is unable to, or if a war or political crisis erupts, Cheam Yeap said.

SRP lawmaker Yim Sovann said he was worried about such broad provisions to protect the Chi­nese investors, and about the price at which EdC will purchase power from the companies.

“Laos sells electricity to Thailand for 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt and the terms that they must buy the electricity from them is only 25 years,” he added.


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