After about a month of sporadic blackouts, officials said Tuesday that steady rainfall will increase the output of one of the city’s main energy sources and bring more electricity to Phnom Penh.
“From now, the supply of electricity is nearly enough,” said Bun Narith, director of the Ministry of Industry’s hydropower department. “Some areas won’t be cut anymore.”
The blackouts came in April, the country’s hottest month, because the hydroelectric power plant located in Kompong Speu province’s Kirirom National Park was operating at about 40 percent of its capacity. The depletion of that energy source, coupled with an increase in electricity consumption for air conditioners, left the city short.
When operating at full capacity, the Kirirom plant can produce 12 megawatts of electricity per day, Bun Narith said. But during the dry season, the plant produced only 3 to 4 megawatts per day. The energy production is crucial to Phnom Penh, which uses about 100 megawatts of power per day most of the year and about 120 megawatts per day in April.
To make up for the deficit, state-run Electricite du Cambodge rented 10 small generators from the private sector that produced about 3 megawatts of power combined. With steady rainfall over the past week, officials are confident the Kirirom plant can produce enough electricity to keep the lights on. “I think the city has almost no electricity shortage problems,” Tan Kim Van, EdC’s director general, said Tuesday.
Not everyone is convinced. Kon Kom, 43, a resident of Russei Keo district, said Tuesday that electricity to his house was last cut off Saturday night. He blamed the lifestyle of the rich for the energy shortages. “I think the rich families in Phnom Penh could cut off their air conditioning to save some power for the poor,” he said.
Investors have long complained about high electricity prices here, and squatters are forced to pay double for electricity in patches of the city excluded from EdC’s power grid.