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Tycoon Senator Opens Up on Thai Power Deal

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times Share:
Tycoon Senator Ly Yong Phat is planning to build a coal-fired power plant in Koh Kong to supply electricity to Thailand. Supplied

Cambodia’s electricity generation reached 2.714 billion kilowatt hours last year, of which 1.851 million KWh was generated by hydro dams and 863.02 million KWh by coal-powered plants. Household access to electricity rose 18.8 percent, compared to 2013, according a report from Cambodia’s Electricity Authority. 

On December 23, the $540 million Koh Kong Tatay hydropower plant was inaugurated in Koh Kong. It can generate 246 megawatts, while the Russei Chrum Krom River hydropower dam in the same province, which began operating last year, can produce 338 MW. 

The government has set a target of fully meeting the nation’s demand for electricity by 2020, and with more dams and coal-fired plants on the way there will be surplus electricity for sale to neighboring countries. According to the recent reports in the Bangkok Post, the Thai government plans to buy power from a 2,000-MW coal-fired power plant in Koh Kong. The plant will be owned by tycoon Ly Yong Phat, owner of L.Y.P. Group, according to the reports. 

Mr. Ly Yong Phat, who is also a senator with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, spoke to Khmer Times about his progress in the deal with Thailand. 
KT: Is there any progress in the deal with the Thai government, which has already approved buying more electricity from Laos?

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Well, in the past, the Thai government mostly buys power from Laos. They have never bought from us. That’s why our government is asking the Thai government to buy from Cambodia. 
During the state visit by our prime minister to Thailand recently, he also talked with the Thai prime minister about this issue. However, so far, I have not received any information from the meeting between the two prime ministers. But, I do believe that in the future, we can cooperate in the electricity sector.  

KT: Do you think that Thailand will buy electricity from Cambodia? 

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Well, they already set a plan to buy from us. However, you have to know that in any country they have medium and long-term plans on how much they are going to import from neighboring countries. 

If I am not wrong, they already finished the previous plan ending this year. Now, under their new plan, which lasts until 2020 and includes a new deal for importing power, I think they will also buy from us. However, I don’t yet know the results of the discussions between the two prime ministers in Thailand recently. However, both countries already have electricity cooperation.

KT: How will you work with your business partner in Thailand if their government approves importing electricity from Cambodia?

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Of course, we will work from company to company. We already knew each other and have very good relations before our prime minister met with Thailand prime minister. Our prime minister also told me to work closely with our Thai business counterpart.

I will have a meeting with our Thai counterpart tomorrow [Monday] – Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc., a state-owned enterprise – to further discuss and double check the agreement. 

As you may be aware that in the deal, we cannot do it solely with our business partner. We need to have good cooperation with relevant Thai authorities. If we have a good relationship between both governments our work will go smoothly. 

KT: Are you planning to sign an agreement with your business partner during your meeting in Bangkok this week? 

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: I am not sure yet whether we can sign the deal during the meeting or not because we need to have more discussions. But, they already had their working group consider the deal. So, I am going there to have a meeting for approval. If we can compromise on the agreement, we can sign during the meeting and if not we can sign later.

KT: Can you tell me how much they are going to buy from neighboring countries?

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Actually, the government of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra already approved importing 5,000 MW. But now the new government sees some problems in the purchase plan, so Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is double checking the electricity-importing plan. 

KT: How confident are you that Thailand will buy 2,000 MW from Cambodia?
Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Of course they will buy 2,000 MWs from us. I think we can sell more as now the company there [Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc.] is discussing this with their government. 

KT: Recently, the Thai government approved buying power from Lao. Why does Thailand still need to buy from us? 

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: I think, Laos has only hydro dams, which can produce more power only during the rainy season. It is important to note that any country has [more than one] source of power – from hydro and coal-power plants, for example. 

For hydro dams, we can get power for use just seven to eight months per year, so the rest they need to get from more power from coal-powered plants. They cannot get enough power from Laos only. So, we still can supply more power in all seasons. But, I think now they are not in a rush to buy from us yet.

KT: When are you going to build the plant? 

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: We have already received approval in principal from the government. It will not take too much time to start building the power plant. But, now we need to sign an agreement with our Thai counterpart on buying first. So, when we reach the deal, we will submit all documents to the government to start building our plant. 

KT: What capacity will your coal-power plant have and can you produce enough to supply Thailand?

Mr. Ly Yong Phat: Well, I think it is not an issue about our capacity to supply them. They can buy even more than 10,000 MW from us, and we can produce it. But, you have to realize that we will produce only to meet demand and we cannot produce more than this… if the government is facing a  shortage for local consumption, we can also sell some to them.

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