While most Poipet residents pay only about 500 riel ($0.13) per kilowatt-hour to power their homes, people living in the Banteay Meanchey provincial capital of Sisophon spend nearly four times that much for same amount of electricity—more than anywhere else in the country.
“It is difficult to live here with the very expensive electricity prices, and everyone complains about this,” said Len Saruon, a 65-year-old retired teacher.
Another Sisophon resident, Sek Sokhom, agreed. He said the price of electricity is especially burdensome for the poor. “I don’t know why they don’t reduce the price. If they can lower the price, I will appreciate it very much,” he said.
An Sum, the first deputy governor of Banteay Meanchey province, acknowledged that electricity is unusually expensive in Sisophon, but he said there is nothing the province can do to make it more affordable.
“The price here is very expensive because the electric operators have to pay higher petrol and transportation costs from Phnom Penh. We understand the [people’s] difficulty, but the price cannot be reduced now,” he said.
He also said that the power-generator operators had wanted to raise their fees even higher because of rising oil prices resulting from the war in Iraq. Provincial authorities prevented the price hike, An Sum said.
“The price has been so expensive already, so I cannot let the operators raise the price higher or the poor will suffer,” he said.
An Sum also said there had once been talk in the private sector of constructing power lines from Poipet to Battambang town, but the plans never materialized.
Sek Sokhon appealed to the government to subsidize the cost of electricity for Sisophon’s residents. “We want it as cheap as that in Poipet. When will we get it that cheap?” he asked.