By Sok Chan
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 25, 2017
People in Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kandal provinces are to benefit from stable electricity supplies after a $75 million project to expand the national grid went online yesterday.
Under the project, 115 kilovolt transmission lines will link Phnom Penh to Bavet in Svay Rieng province via a sub-station in Prey Veng orovince’s Preah Sdach district.
The power will travel along a network of power lines, able to transmit 150 megawatts at first. The lines will later be upgraded to transmit up to 300MW.
Speaking at the inauguration of the project, Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC) director-general Keo Rattanak said the initiative will mean improved electricity for residents in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and some districts of Kandal province, where power was previously imported from Vietnam.
He said the project was made possible with a loan from China.
“The high voltage transmission network will help increase the quality, stability, effectiveness and sustainability of electricity supplies to Cambodian people in the three provinces,” Mr. Rattanak said.
Chinese Ambassador Xiong Bo said the energy industry in Cambodia started from nothing but is now capable of supplying the country, with 80 percent of power produced domestically.
“Energy is like blood to support the economy and transmission lines are like blood vessels,” Mr. Xiong said.
“The high voltage transmission network will help increase the quality of electricity to residents and investors in the Special Economic Zone at Svay Rieng.
“I believe this project will contribute to developing business and investment and boosting the living standards of people.”
Mr. Xiong said China and Cambodia are good friends and partners, so his government will try and grant as many loans as necessary to help Cambodia develop.
Energy Minister Suy Sem said affordable electricity supplies are the key to pushing economic growth, development and modernization.
He said the ministry and EDC are working on plans to develop electricity infrastructure and expand electrification to rural areas.
“The government has drawn from all sources to push electricity development,” Mr. Sem said. “Today we have unveiled the new lines to Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and some districts in Kandal provinces, where we used to import energy from Vietnam.”
By the end of last year, the government had expanded electricity to 10,589 villages nationwide, or about 75 percent. A total of 1.9 million households were also connected, or 58 percent, according to the Energy Ministry.
Cambodia generates 200MW of its energy though oil-powered electricity plants, 500MW through coal-fired plants and 928MW through hydropower plants.
The hydroelectric Lower Se San II dam will open next year, with a capacity of about 400MW, while another 135MW coal-fired power plant will open early in 2019.
Mr. Sem said Cambodia is studying further projects to build a 500MW coal-fired power plant and more hydropower plants to meet increasing demand for electricity after 2020.
He added that Cambodia has 25 power sub-stations covering 14 cities and provinces. Another nine provinces will be connected after 2018, while Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri provinces will be linked up by early 2020.
“We are now pushing to supply quality and reasonably priced electricity across the country,” Mr. Sem said.