The government is considering buying electricity from Thailand to supply energy to three northwestern provinces, government officials said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday met visiting representatives of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand and gave a green light to study the proposal by Thai authorities, said Suy Sem, minister for Industry, Mines and Energy.
“We have to cooperate with EGAT because our government doesn’t have enough money to run a power plant to supply energy in that area,” Suy Sem said Tuesday.
“We expect the cooperation would reduce the price of energy in Cambodia,” he said.
Under the proposal, the Thais would install a 230 km-long transmission system to run from the border town of Poipet through Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces.
The project would be part of a larger energy cooperation agreement between the two countries, officials said.
The two governments are drafting a memorandum of understanding now, said Tun Lean, acting director for the ministry’s energy department.
Under the agreement, either country could sell power to the other, but realistically Cambodia would buy Thai power at least in the beginning, said Ty Norin, executive director in planning for Electricite du Cambodge.
“Thailand produces 8,000 to 9,000 megawatts of power in their country,” Ty Norin said Tuesday. “It’s much easier if Thailand installs transmission lines to Cambodia than if Cambodia builds a power plant in their area.”
EGAT Deputy Governor Sittiporn Ratanopas said Friday in Bangkok that Thailand’s Electricity Generating Co will invest about $10.3 million to install the transmission system, according to a Reuters report.
The generating company is owned by EGAT and Hong Kong-based CLP Holdings, the report said.
EdC provides power in Siem Reap, while private companies provide energy in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey.
But the current power supply is not enough to meet future demand, officials said. Demand is expected to rise about 15 percent a year, they said.
Ty Norin predicted that buying power from Thailand could result in as much as a 50 percent drop in consumer rates.
“EdC is not able to set lower prices for power due to several reasons—expensive fuel for power plants, high cost of road transportation,” Ty Norin said. “The Cambodian government is looking into cooperation with Thailand in order to reduce energy prices.”