Villagers on the outskirts of Phnom Penh appealed to state-run utility Electricite du Cambodge on Monday for help with their skyrocketing electricity bills, which they are currently paying to a private company.
Residents of Ponla Sor Et village in Russei Keo district’s Khmuonh commune can no longer afford to pay their electricity fees, which recently increased from 1,600 riel to 2,500 riel per kilowatt-hour, said Tep Kann, a representative of the villagers. The area’s power supplier is a private company that was recently taken over by a new owner, Tep Kann said.
“We want only the same price like in the past,” he said, adding that residents do not blame the new owner of the power company, but they need help from “EdC’s representatives to help us because the price is too high.”
The village, which is about 3 km from central Phnom Penh, is still in the city and should qualify for electricity from EdC, Tep Kann added.
“We appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen for intervention with [our] petition with 406 thumbprints,” he said, referring to a petition Ponla Sor Et villagers submitted to EdC on Monday.
Government officials promised the villagers they would help them with their power costs during the July election campaign, Tep Kann added.
“Now our villagers need them to keep their words,” he said.
Ul Sok Heng, the new owner of the private company providing electricity to the village, said the price hike was due to the cost of improvements to the power supply-such as the addition of a new generator, new electricity lines and new electricity counters.
“In the past the cost was 1,600 riel to 1,800 riel, but the electrical power was weak [so] they couldn’t use it properly,” said Ul Sok Heng, who is also an electrical engineer for EdC.
“We did not force those villagers to use my new electrical power if they don’t want,” he said on Tuesday. “I wish there was a state electricity line in their village too,” but there won’t be one until 2010, he said.
EdC plans to provide state-run electricity to the area next November, said Pean Ratha, chief officer of electricity distribution at EdC. He added that EdC electricity poles have already been installed in Ponla Sor Et village, but not in all of the villages in Khmuonh commune.