Hopes High for Power Link From Vietnam

Construction on the first national power transmission line be­tween Phnom Penh and the Viet­namese border will begin later this month, bringing cheaper, more reliable power supplies to Cambodia, officials have said.

“We have a shortage of power in Cambodia, so the power brought from Vietnam will help Cam­bodia,” said Ty Norin, chairman of the newly created Elec­tricity Authority of Cambo­dia.

Creating the $46-million power link with Vietnam is the beginning of a 10-year electricity and po­wer project in Cam­bodia.

Cambodia plans to spend another $82 million to build a national power grid that will supply Cambodia and neighboring countries with electricity, reducing Cambodia’s dependency on foreign electricity, Ty Norin said.

Both the link from Vietnam and the power grid project will be financed with loans from the World Bank.

Currently, only 7 percent of Cambodians have access to reliable electricity.

The Cambodian-Vietnamese power link will include two connections, said Ith Praing, secretary of state of the Ministry of Ener­gy. The first link is a medium voltage 15- or 22-kilowatt line that will benefit villages on both sides of the border. The second, larger union is a 220-kilowatt high-voltage transmission line that will run from the Vietnam border to Takeo town and then  to Phnom Penh, Ith Praing said.

Most Cambodians in rural areas pay approximately $0.17 per kilowatt-hour, which is $0.10 higher than what most Viet­namese citizens pay, Ith Praing said. The new electricity transmission line will reduce the price to around $0.11 to $0.12 per kilowatt-hour, Ith Praing said.

The $0.11 or $0.12 will be a flat fee for 12 years and offset the cost of the project, Ith Praing said.

Businesses in Phnom Penh will also benefit from this power link, Ith Praing said. The cost of power for business and industries in Cam­bodia will drop from the current $0.21 per kilowatt-hour to between $0.11 and $0.14 per kilowatt-hour.

Hotels, garment factories and other businesses have long complained about the high cost of elec­tricity in Cambodia and are enthusiastic about the possibilities of this power link, said Seneka Fernando, chairman of the British Business Association of Cambodia.

“As long as this [power link] reduces the cost of electricity, it will be a good development project,” Fernando said.

The high cost of electricity, however, has not deterred businesses from coming to Cambo­dia, Fernando said. He said businesses look to other factors, such as lower start-up costs, that balance the cost of high electricity.

Cambodia is negotiating with Thai authorities to create links in western Cambodia, specifically Battam­bang, Siem Reap, and Banteay Meanchey provinces,Ty Norin said.

Thai and Cam­bo­dian authorities have agreed upon the areas for the connections and are finalizing plans, he said.


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