Phnom Penh’s electricity grid is now linked to Vietnam, and will soon double the amount of electricity available to the capital and cut the number of blackouts, which have plagued the city for years, an Electricite du Cambodge official said Tuesday. The official, however, said he did not know whether the increased supply will lower Phnom Penh’s electricity costs.
EdC Deputy Director Chan Sodavath confirmed by telephone Tuesday that the electricity poles and wires connecting Takeo province to Phnom Penh have been completed, and that all that remains is to switch the power on. But he said he was uncertain exactly when that would happen.
“The poles and the wires are finished, but I do not know when we can provide electricity because we need to discuss with the [Vietnamese] company.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen inked a deal to buy Vietnamese electricity in 2008, and in April power lines from Vietnam had reached Takeo.
Chea Sunhel, director of distribution for the EdC, said that once power starts flowing through the newly completed link with Vietnam’s power grid, an extra 200 megawatts will be available to Phnom Penh and will reduce the number of blackouts, particularly to the 20 percent of the city that currently faces power outages everyday.
“The supply should begin by late April or early May. The capacity will increase by double,” Mr Chea Sunhel said.
Phnom Penh’s thirst for electricity grows at about 10 percent every year with the current supply set at about 190 megawatts and potential consumption at 220 megawatts.
Mr Chea Sunhel said he did not know what affect the surge in supply would have on Phnom Penh’s electricity costs.
The high cost of electricity has long been sited as one of the foremost infrastructure problems in Cambodia, which cannot compete with the much cheaper electricity costs found in neighbor Vietnam.
Phnom Penh Deputy Municipal Governor Mann Chhoeun said he didn’t expect prices to decrease and that much of the added supply will fill in gaps in service to the city’s outskirts.
Utilities in Phnom Penh are slowly improving and this added electricity is an important stride forward, he said.
“We lack electricity,” he said. “If we can have another electricity source, it will be perfect.”
Ith Praing, secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said Tuesday by telephone that he was too busy to comment on the new power link.