Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday said the country is now facing an electricity shortage of about 400 megawatts, leading to power outages, and appealed to people, especially those in the business sector, to understand that this is because of an ongoing dry spell.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 5th River Festival in Kampong Chhnang province, Mr Hun Sen said the power cuts are being caused by natural factors, adding that Southeast Asian countries have been facing drought and water shortages since February.
“Climate change is not only affecting Cambodia, but also the whole region. We need water to produce electricity,” he said. “I urge people not to waste water as we will experience a long dry season which will last until June.”
Mr Hun Sen appealed to people to understand that there is a need for power cuts during this period and called on those who have generators to use them in their houses, hotels or workplaces to reduce the usage of electricity.
“A large amount of our electricity is produced through hydropower dams, but now there is a shortage of water so the dams can only generate a small amount of electricity,” he said. “We currently lack 400 megawatts, and we are seeking solutions to tackle this issue.”
Mr Hun Sen noted that the manufacturing sector, especially rice mills, were not affected by the power shortage because they have their own generators.
Neth Pheaktra, Ministry of Environment spokesman, yesterday expressed support for Mr Hun Sen’s call and urged people to use electricity and water sparingly.
According to the Mines and Energy Ministry, Cambodia produced 2,650 megawatts of electricity last year, of which 1,329 megawatts, or 50 percent, came from hydroelectric dams.
Electricité du Cambodge on Friday issued a statement notifying the public that because of the extremely hot weather, the demand for electricity has gone up leading to disruptions in power supply.
EDC said it is scheduling power cuts either in the mornings or afternoons for six hours daily throughout the country.
Ms Srey Mom, a coffee shop owner in Chbar Ampov district, yesterday said the power supply in the area has been cut off in the mornings for three days in a row.
“I understand the problem but I hope the government can find a solution quickly,” she said. “I cannot run my business when there is no electricity.”
Property tycoon Duong Chhay took to Facebook on Saturday and blamed EDC director-general Keo Rattanak for not having a proper mechanism in place to address the problem which had been forecasted well in advance.
“If you [Rattanak] had no plan or ability to tackle the problem, please resign,” he said. “I tried to contact him to discuss the issue but he refused to talk to me because I have publicly complained about the power cuts.”
Mr Rattanak declined to comment yesterday.