Power bills to fall in agriculture

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
An operator at work in a local power plant. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government is planning to lower the price of electricity for factories in the agriculture sector, and says it will be able to supply it as cheap as 480 riel, or 12 cents, per kilowatt hour, as soon as the power plants under construction throughout the country operate at full capacity.

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Authorities are also planning on setting aside 20 to 30 megawatts to be used solely by factories that process agricultural products, Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon announced during a forum on agriculture yesterday.

“When our hydropower plants and other power plants throughout the country become fully operational, the government will reserve 20 to 30 MWs for factories in the agricultural sector,” he said.

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“When the Lower Sesan II Dam comes online, we will work on reducing the price of electricity to about 480 riels, or 12 cents, per kWh for factories in the agriculture sector,” he added.

The minister said the high cost of electricity and logistics in the country continue to be the biggest issues stopping investors from entering the local agriculture sector, but said the government is working hard to find a solution to Cambodia’s energy woes.

Song Saran, the CEO of Amru Rice, told Khmer Times he was glad the government was prioritising reducing the price of electricity in the agriculture sector.

Amru Rice pays 16 to 20 cents per kWh at their factories, which Mr Saran claims is too expensive to make the sector attractive to foreign investors.

He said that setting aside 20 to 30 MWs for the sector is enough for now, but that more energy will be needed in upcoming years as the economy expands and industrialises.

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“Twelve cents per kWh would be a great improvement and will really help the sector,” he said.

Mr Saran noted that some provinces have particularly high electricity bills, such as Preah Vihear, where people pay as much as 50 cents per kWh.

With products now being manufactured all over the country, Mr Saran said, the government needs to make sure the cost of electricity is reduced evenly across the nation.

Victor Jona, the general director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, said demand for electricity in Cambodia is now 2,000 MWs a year.

The Lower Sesan II Dam will be capable of generating 400 MWs when fully operational, which will happen later this year, according to Mr Jona. He said the dam will eventually contribute about 20 percent of total electricity consumption in the country.

He added there are six hydropower plants now operating with a total installed capacity of about 928 MWs. They provide about one third of all electricity generated in the country.

Mr Jona said coal-fired power plants have an installed capacity of 370 MWs and contribute about 37 percent of the current power supply.

“After the Lower Sesan II Dam goes online, Cambodia will be able to reduce its reliance on purchasing power from neighbouring countries by about 10 percent,” he said.

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