The government says it is considering a bank’s offer to build a $2 million hydroelectric plant in Siem Reap province.
While acknowledging the province needs more electricity, as guest houses, hotels, and restaurants continue to be built, a proper study needs to be completed before the government can accept Canadia Bank’s offer to build the plant, said Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry and Energy.
“Siem Reap is a main cultural province….We wanted to see the results of a study first, before we can make a decision,” he said.
Canadia offered earlier this month to put a hydroelectric plant near Angkor Wat, but the government does not want the construction to disturb the environment, the temples, or life in the province, Ith Praing said.
“It is not clear now whether this power plant will affect the environment in Angkor Wat or not. But Siem Reap really needs power to support its [tourism industry] here,” said Siem Reap province Governor Chap Nhalivuth.
Most of the hotels and guest houses in the area around the temples use private generators because electric rates are so high, Chap Nhalivuth said. Bank officials say the proposal will reduce electricity costs, which, they say, Cambodia desperately needs.
Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Kompong Cham, Siem Reap, Takeo and Battambang provinces spent $33 million on electricity alone last year, Canadia Bank chairman Pung Kheav Se said. Currently, Siem Reap spends about $0.20 per kilowatt-hour. A hydroelectric plant could reduce the cost to about $0.07 per kilowatt-hour, Pung Kheav Se said.
“I understand that to improve the current level of competition and to attract investors, the country needs to decrease the price of electricity,” he said.
The government is also studying a proposal by the Japanese to build a 10-megawatt power plant in or near Siem Reap town, Ith Praing said. That study should be completed by the end of the year.