Rural Villagers Stung by Rising Electricity Rates

Villagers in rural northwestern areas said Sunday that the continuing rise in power prices is forcing them to ration their electricity.

Battambang province villager Nang Roth, who lives in Sangke dis­trict’s O’Dam Bang commune, said she was told by her local pow­er provider that the price of electricity is slated to rise from $1 to $1.50 per kilowatt-hour.

Electricity in Phnom Penh is currently around 800 riel ($0.20) per kilowatt-hour.

“I make only a little money every day, but I’m spending more on electricity,” Nang Roth said. “I am very worried since I was told it would increase to 6,000 riel ($1.50) per kilowatt hour. I will stop using it when the price goes up.”

Thmar Koul district fruit vendor Ian Khon said he, too, is struggling to pay 3,500 riel per kilowatt-hour. Just powering a television costs be­tween $5 and $7 per month, he said.

Banteay Meanchey province’s Thma Puok district deputy police chief Yort Tray said that he has been informed that the cost of electricity, which is only available by generator to households for six to seven hours per day, will increase from 3,000 riel to 3,500 riel per kilowatt-hour.

Minister of Industry, Mines and En­ergy Suy Sem said on Sunday that the rising cost of gasoline was forcing up the price of electricity, par­ticularly in remote areas.

The government is unable to provide electricity to rural areas at this time, Suy Sem said, adding that the government is hoping to encourage private business to invest in the power sector, particularly in alternatives to producing electricity from gas­oline.

Battambang and Siem Reap prov­inces should get less expensive electricity imported from Thai­land next year, he added.

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Eng Chhay Eang claimed that rural people were paying far higher prices for power than city dwellers because local government officials had created monopolies on power supply. “The price is high because of monopolies and corruption among of­ficials in charge of electricity,” he said. “If competition were free and open, it would be lower.”

 

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