Phnom Penh Power Outages Blamed on Shortages in Vietnam

The rolling power outages that have struck Phnom Penh’s outer districts this month are in part due to a lack of supply from Vietnam, of­ficials at the state power utility said yesterday.

Under a contract signed a year ago, Vietnam Electricity Group was to deliver power to Phnom Penh along a 220-kilovolt transmission line constructed last year.

But of the promised 200 mega­watts, which officials last year boasted would end persistent shortages in Phnom Penh, only 100 MW is currently being supplied due to power shortages in Vietnam, said Chhung Ung, director of the commercial office at Electricite du Cambodge.

“They are lacking electricity too,” Mr Ung said, adding that talks are under way for Vietnam to provide more power.

Le Bien Cuong, commercial at­tache at the Vietnamese Embassy, referred questions back to EdC.

In addition to the short supply from Vietnam, the Kirirom Hydro­power Station in Kompong Speu province cannot function due to a seasonal water shortage, while oth­er generators are broken.

Supply in the capital currently stands at 240 MW—30 MW short of demand.

“We have more than 230,000 customers in Phnom Penh, and it keeps growing by 10,000 every year,” Mr Ung added.

EdC Director Keo Rottanak was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he said on Tuesday that the rolling blackouts were also due to maintenance ahead of the rainy season.

According to Mr Ung, the re­cently completed Kamchay hydroelectric dam in Kampot province will supply Phnom Penh with extra power later this year.

“At the end of this year, the Kam­chay Dam will supply 10 MW out of 193 MW, and the rest will be provided in 2012,” he said.

With all generators functioning properly, peak generating capacity for Phnom Penh is 180 MW, ac­cording to an EdC official who de­clined to be named as he is not au­thorized to speak to the news media.

Since this supply is not currently online, the additional 100 MW from Vietnam, even if it does materialize, still means the city falls short of de­mand, he said.

“If the rain comes, demand will drop, so we will not face any more electricity insufficiencies,” he said.

Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Associa­tion in Cambodia, said yesterday that the frequent power shortages had affected garment factories’ productivity.

While many garment factories have their own generators, these can usually on­ly run for four or five hours at a time, meaning factory downtime is likely.

“Garment factories require a long-term power supply. So EdC must provide a stable power supply,” he said.

 

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