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Hun Sen says water levels may cause power cuts in capital

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Workers test power lines in the capital. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday advised residents and businesses in the capital to be prepared for electricity shortages which could occur in the future if water levels at hydropower dams run low.

Speaking at the official launch of the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023 in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen said steps to increase the power supply are ongoing and apologised for any inconvenience caused if blackouts do occur.

He noted that the Ministry of Mines informed him that the Kingdom’s hydropower production capacity of 1,378 megawatts a day had recently dropped to between 184 and 187 megawatts per day because of lower water levels.

The Kingdom also has diesel and solar-powered alternatives to produce electricity.

“[Because of the hydropower situation] we may face problems in generating electricity,” Mr Hun Sen said.

He noted that Cambodia is buying 200 megawatts of electricity daily from Laos and is also purchasing two generators, capable of producing 200MW each, which will be installed at a diesel power station in Kandal province’s Lvea Em area to address the power woes in Phnom Penh.

“We expect the installations to be completed by April or May 2020,” the Prime Minister said. “We spent nearly $400 million to buy the generators from Germany and Finland.”

Mr Hun Sen urged the Minister of Mines and Energy to increase the number of workers at the site to speed up the installations.

He also appealed to hotel owners to use their own generators in case of power failures until the issue is settled.

Phnom Penh experienced frequent power cuts during the dry season this year.

In June, Mr Hun Sen announced that the Kingdom will not face a shortage of electricity next year because the government had taken steps to boost power supply.

He said that in order to reduce dependency on hydropower, the government is in the process of sourcing electricity from neighbouring countries and building more coal as well as solar powered plants.

Victor Jona, Mines and Energy Ministry director-general, yesterday confirmed that the government has taken measures to prevent any power shortage by installing the 400-megawatt diesel power station in Kandal province. He declined to comment further.

Hem Veasna, a power generator seller in the capital, yesterday said that he has stocked up after hearing that the city may face electricity shortages again.

“When there are power cuts, there is big demand for generators,” he noted.

So Sopheavy, a rice seller, said her business was badly affected when blackouts occurred during the dry season.

“If I experience electricity cuts again, I will buy a small generator,” she noted.

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