Kandal Villagers Say Power Prices Still Too High

Villagers in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district spoke out yesterday against new electricity tariffs introduced by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, which came into affect this year, saying they have not lowered prices enough.

Residents in the district had their electricity costs cut from 2,600 riel, or about $0.65, per kilowatt-hour to 1,700 riel on Jan 1. But they say it is still too high when compared to other districts in the province, which are paying less despite being connected to the same state power grid.

“I would like to get the same price as in Dang Kao district where the price of electricity is 1,100 riel per kilowatt-hour,” said Nou Saron, 49, a civil servant living in Kandal Stung’s Anlong Romiet commune. “I would like to get this price because the electricity is connected from Vietnam in the same way for these two districts.”

Electricity coverage in Kandal province is spread out among both the state utility Electricite du Cambodge and private companies, which charge a higher rate.

Chhim Phan, chief of Anlong Romiet commune, said that villagers now paying 1,700 riel per kilowatt-hour would see their bill falling by 100 riel every two months.

“The price will be reduced to 1,300 riel [per kilowatt-hour] by October,” he said, adding that eventually the rate for the area would be dropped to 1,100-riel.

Representatives of EAC and EdC could not be reached yesterday.

On Thursday about 200 villagers from Kandal Stung district traveled to the provincial hall to protest the new electricity price, but were prevented from doing so by military police, said Cham Roeun Kunthea, a Kandal Stung villager.

Choie Sobin, Kandal Stung district governor, said he had obtained a request from the villagers to lower the price during a meeting on Friday.

“EdC officials will bring the villagers’ request to discuss with the Electricity Authority of Cambodia,” he said.

For those on the state grid system in Kandal province and Phnom Penh, the price of electricity for those using less than 50 kilowatt-hours per month is now charged at 610 riel, or about $0.153, per kilowatt-hour, up 56 percent from the previous price of 390-riel.

According to government officials, the 390 riel tariff was only made possible because of a large subsidy paid for by EdC, which had kept the price of power artificially low. Those that use more than 50 kilowatt-hours now pay 720 riel per kilowatt-hour, up from the previous amount of 610 riel.

Government officials last week defended their decision to raise electricity prices for residents living in Phnom Penh and other provinces, saying the new tariff hikes were necessary if electrical coverage is to expand further in the country.


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