The Lao government has proposed to build a power plant near the border to supply electricity to Cambodia’s northeastern provinces, according to Cambodian government officials.
The proposal was made this week by a Lao delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad as part of a power cooperation plan, Industry Minister Suy Sem said Wednesday.
“This is the first move after Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed with the Lao government on a plan to trade power between the two countries,” Suy Sem said. Both countries agreed in mid-October that Cambodia would buy power from Laos.
“We hope power prices would reduce substantially if we buy electricity from Laos where the power sector is well developed,” Suy Sem added. Residents in the northern provinces now pay $0.20 per kilowatt hour, double Phnom Penh’s prices, he said.
The Lao official assured top Cambodian officials that Laos will look for private investors to build a plant close enough to the border to connect transmission lines to Ratanakkiri and Stung Treng provinces, the minister said. He added the nearest existing plant in Laos is more than 100 km away from the border and that it is not economical to connect to the two provinces.
Currently, small power suppliers with generators provide electricity to the two northeast provinces, Ministry of Industry officials said.
Sat Samy, director of the ministry’s energy department, said Wednesday the plan still is in early stages and both governments need to discuss details.
Sat Samy noted Cambodia is developing power trade cooperation plans with Thailand and Vietnam, too, in order to solve what is expected to be a severe power shortage in the country.
Officials have said Cambodia has only 120 megawatts of capacity, 65 megawatts of which is in Phnom Penh.
Improving power supplies is one of the government’s top priorities.
In early November, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand proposed to Hun Sen a $10.3 million project to install a 230 km-long transmission system to Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces. Sat Sam said residents of Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces could be beneficiaries of a Vietnam-Cambodia power cooperation plan.