More than 500 residents of Pursat City have signed a letter addressed to Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem threatening to take to the streets in protest if the town’s privately owned electricity distributor does not reduce prices.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, wrote yesterday to the minister asking that he intervene on behalf of the residents and have the private power supplier, Nareth Electricity Development Co, drop the price of power by more than half, from current rates of 1,750 riel per kilowatt hour to 800 riel, or about $0.45 per kilowatt hour to $0.20.
“The price of electricity needs to drop because the current living costs are already too difficult for them to pay every month,” Mr. Chhun wrote, adding that the price of electricity in Battambang and Kompong Chhnang provinces is currently only 1,000 riel per kilowatt hour.
The price of electricity in Pursat City has already dropped significantly since January 2011, from a high of 2,500 riel per kilowatt to 1,800 riel as a result of similar protests. Earlier this year, the price was reduced further to 1,750 riel per kilowatt.
“Companies in other provinces have found ways to keep the prices down,” Mr. Chhun added by phone.
Yim Nareth, director of the Nareth Electricity Development Co, who acquired the sole right to distribute electricity in Pursat City in 2003, said that she was currently not in a position to reduce prices because of the high-cost of producing electricity, and because of an agreement with the government to which she was bound.
“I know what they are demanding in Pursat, but we cannot help them unless Mr. Suy Sem reshuffles the deal with us,” she said.
“If the people resolve to demonstrate, they should be held accountable under the law,” she added.