I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thankfulness to all of our people who turn out today to celebrate altogether the official inauguration of the Komjai hydropower plant, which has the capacity to produce some 193.2 MW. According to the General Director of Sino-Hydro Corporation, the output could reach slightly over 194 MW. It is indeed a historic event today that the Kingdom of Cambodia, for the first time, has put into operation its first three-digit hydropower plant. So far we have only two-digit hydropower plants. It is in this note that I say today is our historic event in national development.
Minister Suy Sen of Industry, Energy and Mines, said in his report already that this achievement is not born out of recent vision or efforts but a result of a long-standing wish and vision from the former popular socialist community (Sangkum Reastniyum) under the leadership of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. The hydropower plant was a vision and study was conducted then. Today’s achievement is just a continuation of the vision of the popular socialist community of Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. The Hydro Project, so the Russian company then was called, was the one conducted the study for the generation of what could be a 127 MW power plant. If we were to have no war, which was a result of the 1970 coup (against Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk), the country could have made steadfast development and Cambodia might have had electricity from its hydropower plant about 30 years already.
According to a note by HE Suy Sem various studies were conducted in relation to the Komjai Hydropower plan. There were reports in 1972 by the Secretariat of the Mekong Commission, in 1986 by a company of the former Soviet Union, in 1992 by a Japanese company, in 1994 by a group of Austrian experts, in 1995 by Canadian grant, in between 1998 and 2000 by the technical assistance framework of the World Bank, and on to 2001 and 2002 again by the Canadian experts.
Let me inform you that the Komjai hydropower plant, which costs 280.54 million USD, is a BOT project running for forty four years, four years of which are for the construction, and Cambodia will own it after forty years of operation. We will have to study about the operation, maintenance and management of hydropower plant in order to be able to take over when the time comes.
According to the above note, there have been many studies and assessment of impacts in detail. However, I have come across this morning a piece of news in the Cambodia Daily about possible impacts. If we were to talk about development in the world, has there any one country that evades all impacts? I may have your attention here that there is no development that would not harm the environment. Take for instance, if you were to plant something, where would you do it? You would have to work it on land and you may have to claim it to do so.
As is said above the project was studied first in 1965 and it was not China who did it. The bidding was conducted internationally but finally the Sino-Hydro Company successfully bid it. Talking about climate change, Cambodia is just a victim while many industrialized countries are the ones to be held responsible. Could you tell them to close down their factories? In addition to that who would have to take care of people’s demand for food and other needs, if the world no longer drills for oil or coal? How are we going to address the need for energy? That is why I always tell those environmentalists not to go to the extremes on this matter. It is better to review the whole forest rather than singling out the tree.
It is true that the development of the hydropower plant at Komjai has brought about certain area of Kompot under water. But what we will get from that is 194 MW power and starting from March next year, people in Kompot would benefit directly from the project. HE Suy Sem suggested to me to remind about the fact that it was the people in Kompot who protested on issue of electricity prices. I was in Kompot to review the flood situation but people did not ask me about rice seed but electricity.
The electricity generated from the plant will be wired to Phnom Penh, Takeo, Kompot itself and could be to the Sihanoukville province too. Let me share with you the good news. As of current price list, small scale consumers pay 1100 Riel/KH. However, in March 2012, they would pay only 920 Riel/KH. As for medium scale consumers, from 1100 Riel/KH, the price would in the same period go down to 990 Riel/KH. As for large scale consumers, the price would go down to 750 Riel/KH. I surely hope that with the new price tag of electricity the people in the city of Kompot would be happy.
As far as the project is concerned, aside from electricity, we hope that the city of Kompot would not be subjected to flood as every year. Thanks to the water management system in the hydropower project, the city of Kompot could be safe from unexpected flooding. I would suggest that in addition to the water management system of the Komjai hydropower plant, study should be conducted on the possibility to use the Keo River to alleviate the water pressure on the city.
It should be noticed that bidding was conducted internationally with thorough control. As far as power lining from Kompot to Takeo is concerned, Germany is the one to provide financial assistance. Don’t you think that the German would not provide that kind of assistance if the project were to cause serious environmental impacts? I am sure they wouldn’t.
After bidding, the project was brought for discussion at the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-region) meeting in Kunming, People’s Republic of China, in 2005. Until April 8, 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao and I officiated at the groundbreaking ceremonies to build the current Friendship Building of the Council of Ministers and the Komjai hydropower plant. At the time of Ambassador Zhang Jinfeng, I officiated with her at the inauguration of ten MW power on 07 December 2009 before the tenure of the current Ambassador Pan Guangxue.
It has been a great effort of all concerned in both countries and we are working day and night to get to this result as we are quite concerned about the price of oil. Our electricity production depends on fossil fuel and with skyrocketing price of fuel by OPEC, we would have serious problem. In effort to provide power for household or small-scale consumption, in absence of reliable sources of electricity and high voltage power lines, we have allowed local private investors to generate electricity to provide for the need. That is why the price for electricity consumption is high. For example in some places the price per KH has reached 3000 Riel. Now that good cooperation has been restored, Thailand would sell five MW power to Cambodia to provide for consumption in Anlong Veng and Tropeang Prasad.
I said earlier that our electricity production depends heavily on fossil fuel. The price of gas, which went down a few days ago to 5,000 Riel/liter from 5,300 Riel/liter, has now been about to go up again because of sanctions on Iran imposed by Europe and the United States of America. When there was a fight in Libya, the fuel prices also surged in Cambodia. So I doubt if we could see a more stable fuel prices. It is in this regard that we have no choice better than generating electricity by the hydropower in various places in our country. According to some studies, it has been suggested that Cambodia could have hydro potential to produce up to 10,000 MW. We are still far from this figure.
As HE Suy Sem reported, the Kirirom I hydropower generation was put into operation in 2002 with the capacity to provide 12 MW. The current Komjai hydropower plant puts out 194 MW. The Kirirom III hydropower plant to be ready for operation in April 2012 will be putting out 18 MW. The hydropower plant at A Tai of 120 MW power will be put into operation by end of 2013. I do not know if Ambassador Pan Guangxue will be able to make it but I will take the time on December 26 to visit the construction site. The Ta Tai hydropower plant, which will be ready in 2014, will be producing 246 MW power. The Russei Jrom Kraom hydropower plant, which will provide 338 MW power will be put into operation in 2015.
It should be noted also that the first-stage coal-run power plant of 100 MW has been scheduled to be in operation in 2013 and the second-stage operation of 135 MW power generation from coal will be put into operation in 2016. The coal-run power plant II will provide its first-stage production of 270 MW power in 2014 in Sihanoukville province. As is said by HE Suy Sem, though we now have a power plant to put out 194 MW, we still need to have coal-fueled power plant because in dry season, when there is less water in the reservoir to run the turbine, the generation of power would be around 60 MW or so. The two – hydropower and coal-run plants – would be regulated accordingly to provide needed amount of electricity.
I recalled for HM the King that we have now come into a different time. After the liberation, we supplied nine items for government civil servants, of which kerosene was one. They needed kerosene to light up their homes at night (because of no electricity).But now, we have come to a time that we have electricity at a moderate price. We also need to provide electricity for tourist industry and tangible industries.
If the price of electricity in our country is higher than those of neighboring countries, in addition to their transportation cost is cheaper than ours, their trade facilitation would be better and we would not be able to compete with them because for the same goods, it costs higher to produce in our country. So the price of electricity is one of the key issues here to advance tourism and other industries’ competitive advantages.
Having that said, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for responding to Cambodia’s call for investments. Since 1987 and I have said it on many occasions about Cambodia’s four priorities – water/irrigation, road, electricity and human resources. I have the belief that these priorities will be here to stay for some ten or twenty more years. As far as road is concerned, people in Kompot can be proud now that the national road 3 between Kompot and Phnom Penh has been rebuilt and enlarged. With the help of the PRC, we have launched the construction of the road 41 which will link Kompot’s Jumkiri district to NR 4. Also in this effort to address road construction as a priority we have also started the construction of roads 31, 33, etc. of over 100 kilometers.
This has ensured that people in Kompot – whether they are in Kep city, in Toeuk Tchou and/or Bokor Mountain – will definitely and surely be advancing for development. Also we have many schools built in Kompot, as well as throughout the country, and I have made a contribution in building 153 school buildings of 784 classrooms too. General Meas Sophea, deputy chief of general staff, has nurtured a wish to build a university in the future too.
Concerning water/irrigation, we have invested in building canals and dams so that water can be used for agricultural purpose. Here in Kompot, I have made a recommendation to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to make use of water from the hydropower dams, the same should be done from the hydropower dams elsewhere, for agricultural purpose in area below the dams. We also have to study the possibility to release fish in the water catchment area too. Doing this we will not only generate electricity, but also raising fish and attracting tourists as well.
As I said above, since the electricity is being generated in Kompot, I would like to take this opportune moment to make some recommendations for the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines and the Cambodian Electricity Authority to make it a priority to set up power lines so as to wire electricity to villages in the province. We have provided funding for the work to transmit power to electricity sub-stations and efforts should be made to involve private sectors to invest in wiring down from the sub-stations for distribution to customers. I would have your attention here that there must be a price regulation so that they would not charge electricity price at will.
As is reported to you by HE Suy Sem, efforts have been made to install power lines. We have already lined up between here and Kompot city. The power line from the southern part of Vietnam to Phnom Penh, via Takeo province, has completed and is now in operation. The power line from Kiririom to Phnom Penh has also been installed and in operation now. We also finish installing power lines from Phnom Penh to Kompong Chhnang, Pursath, Battambang and on to Banteay Meanjei which are to be utilized later this year. We also have lined electricity in from Thailand and it is in operation already.
We are in the stage of installing the electricity line between Phnom Penh and Kompong Cham province and further, we are seeking funding for this part, to Kratie. We already have secured credit funding from India for power lines between the province of Kratie and Stoeung Treng. We also are looking for loan/funding for the power line to be installed between the province of Siem Reap and Kompong Thom and on to Skun town of Kompong Cham as well.
I would like to take this opportunity to seek Ambassador Pan Guangxue’s support for the Cambodian need for loan of 50 million USD per year for high voltage power line. I really wish to see a speedy move for Cambodian electricity. In many parts of our country, Cambodian people are still using batteries to light up their house. According to a study, about 50% of Cambodian villages only have got some kind of proper electricity.
There is a concern as I have been briefed about the need to protect the power lines and poles. In some cases there was this incident that some took the screws off and sold them for petty cash. This is not only a theft crime but a serious issue when the poles no longer hold the lines or the lines for some reason are cut off blacking out a large part of Phnom Penh. It is in this thought that I appeal to those who may have done so – taking off the screws, cutting iron steels – in the past, to stop this unthoughtful actions. This action (if it were to cause any deaths) would be sinful, whereas in legal action, for such a crime, they could be punished seriously as a subversive or terrorist activity.
I would like therefore appeal to local authorities of all levels and at every places where the power lines are installed and running through to take drastic measures to protect the lines. I suggest the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy to call on the Ministry of Interior to convene a meeting with the local authorities and the armed forces – army, police and military police, to work out protective measures for all power lines.
The most recent incident was about a case that someone has shot and damaged a line here. I have concluded that was not an act aimed at damaging it but a shot from an air gun aimed at some birds or something but accidentally hit the line. Therefore I am calling every Cambodian to help protect their property – the power lines and poles.
For this project, Deputy Prime Minister and Economy and Finance Minister Keat Chhon has confirmed that a counterpart fund of 3.3 million USD has been spent to de-mine in the project site of 17,512,100 square meters. We have found 100 mines of many different kinds, 220 pieces of unexploded ordnances and 1,193 Kg of shrapnel. The Royal Government also takes charge of all the import taxes, which is about 15.8 million USD, of all materials used for the construction.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere thank for the efforts and consideration given by Sino-Hydro Company in taking up this hydropower project from beginning to end. I also am grateful and admiring for the company’s effort to help build the Techo Morakot Bridge in the Sihanoukville province and city too.
Once again, I would like to convey thanks and appreciation for the People’s Republic of China for urging and facilitating their investors to come take projects in Cambodia. The PRC not only urge them to come in words but also allow fund for them too. This is a marvelous style of the Chinese. If the Chinese government supports the project you proposed, they would urge their investors to come with their banks’ financial support too.
I would like to thank the German Federal Republic for providing grant through KfW Entwicklungsbank for the construction and installation of power lines between Kompot and Takeo. I thank all development partners for providing loans for the construction and installation of distribution lines of electricity in Cambodia. I also reserve my praise for officials of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Cambodian Development Council, the Cambodian Electricity Authority, concerned institutions and local authorities for making collective efforts to make the dream of our King-Father and Queen-Mother from the 1960s come true.