I am so happy to be able to join with you again in today’s ceremony to put into official operation the Tatay Hydropower plant that produces 246 MW. I remember that in this year alone, the country has received 584 MW of electricity from Koh Kong province. On 12 January 2015, we have put into operation the Russei Jrum Kraom hydropower plant, which puts out 330 MW power. In just days from now when the year 2015 will be ending, we have today Tatay Hydropower plant that adds another 246 MW, making a combined output of 584 MW to supply electricity not only for Koh Kong province but to Phnom Penh and various other provinces.
As explained in the report by Minister of Mines and Energy, HE Suy Sem, and elaboration by the China National Heavy Machinery Corporation vice councilor, on progress and process of development of this huge project, on 12 January 2011, I came and witnessed the closing of the river to mark the final stage of the construction of the dam. There are pictures here. Among those present, brother Say Phu Thong who is not here for his health and former China’s Ambassador HE Pan Guang Xue already left Cambodia. However, with the progress we make here, we have created a favorable condition for the country through realizing its prosperously economic development.
I would take this opportune moment to deliver my appreciation to relevant institutions of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Cambodian Authority of Electricity, the Electricity of Cambodia, the Koh Kong provincial authority and the Cambodian armed forces for taking their active collaboration in this project. I also convey my sincere appreciation and thank to the China National Heavy Machinery Corporation and Cambodia Tatay Hydropower Ltd.
Hydropower and Socio-economic Impacts
It was not an easy job to work on this construction project. In the past, we would not know that places with such terrain and condition could utilize to produce electricity. When technological advancement was not there, we did not know that open space like this could generate electricity. We have come to this stage when there is a breakthrough in technology. Profit that we have obtained here is not for solely Koh Kong province or the achievement of electricity sector alone but covers every socio-economic aspect. The world is talking about energy and food security as one.
As for development, take for instance tourism, we have now come to the time when tourists need air-conditioned rooms. Hotel without air-conditioned room would not be tourists’ choice. Generation of electricity here is not a matter of electric production alone. It has served a wide range of sectors such as tourism or banking … everything. Electric power will serve need for energy in industry or agriculture, where pumping water in irrigation is one example.
We are now talking electricity. Our people may have remembered though the time when we all had to use kerosene for lighting. Prior to that, our people went through tree sap and fish oil for lighting purpose. In the past, we went searching for whatever was available for lighting. Younger generation people would not know that. Some of you could have been born in that era. That this month of year with breeze from northern hemisphere, there is abundance of fish and people use fish oil to light the night up. Torch made from sap that people took from large trees, you may have noted some with holes on them. Now, torch making and selling is not in business anymore. No one would need torch.
An Arbitrage of Electricity Meters
There is a big demand for electricity generation. HE Suy Sem already told you that in the past, Cambodia produced only a few hundred MW of electricity. Phnom Penh consumed less than 50 MW. At present time, Phnom Penh consumes about 900 MW. It has been days now that cool temperature settles down on Cambodia. This has led, according to HE Keo Ratanak, to electric consumption of 100 MW lower, only 800 MW. I think I should bring this matter of electricity meter up. I would suggest the Electricity of Cambodia to seek for an arbitrage to resolve issue regarding electricity meter. Electric reading has always been a matter, especially in the hot weather season.
For the same air-conditioner, in the cooler weather season, it consumes for example 10 kVA but in hotter season, it goes up to 15 kVA. To resolve this issue I urge a search for any company – Japanese, US, Chinese, Korean, to measure the electricity meter and make sure people are no longer holding conflict opinion on that anymore. I hope our people reserve their understanding on this matter as in cooler weather we tend to use less air-conditioner than in hotter one. It is a very normal cause. However, while we had a rather cool weather, yesterday it rained three times. As of this morning, the weather is no longer cool and I feel sweating already.
Sacrifice for More Interests from Hydropower
I am so happy with this investment. It is true there is nothing that one would gain without paying a price. In order to gain 246 MW of electricity we have a price to pay. Over 2,000 hectares of our forest is under water. We have to make a clear decision whether we sacrifice between 2,000 and 3,000 land in order to change them into electricity to answer to the country’s need and creates jobs for hundred of thousands of people or million even, or not? Extremist environmentalists always oppose to development. One best possible way perhaps is to bring them torches and to disconnect electricity from their houses. Still, bringing them torches, those environmentalists will criticize us for taking sap from trees to make them. Opposition will go on and they would not care to give you encouragement.
In another instance, would we dare to change to nuclear power generation? The other day that the Russian Prime Minister was here … there was a talk about possibility of nuclear power generation in Cambodia. Would we or would we not accept it? There will be tremendous demonstration against it. Not only from our people but also from Thailand, Vietnam, etc., as any incident in Cambodia would not leave them safe. Japan had its explosion in 2011 and the former Soviet Union in 1985 in Chernobyl.
Need of Electricity Up
The last day of water festival, most part of the country went blackout. I could not get a TV to go live. I then had to talk to our people live via Facebook. There was comment that it was good that the Russian Prime Minister already left or we would have been disgraced. I responded that he would not because Russian had an explosion of nuclear power at Chernobyl and about 5 million homes in the US and Canada went without electricity as the national electric line of Canada failed. I then had HE Keo Ratanak to explain to people what actually happened. As of now, demand for electricity increases day after day. Every household is in need of electricity. Where national electric line does not cover yet, people pay up to 3,000 Riel or 2,500 Riel for a kVA provided by private generators. Some may have their own generator. That consumes a lot of fossil fuel. I thank our good partner – China, for our two countries’ cooperation. China produced electricity of Kirirom I, Kirirom III, Komjai, Tatay, Atay, Russei Jrum Kraom and Sesan, which will add another 400 MW by end of 2017.
I would take this opportune moment to indicate a roadmap framework. In fact the Electricity of Cambodia, the Electricity Authority and the Ministry of Mines and Energy already set their goals but I just want to add some more tasks in this sector. There are three works to pay attention to:
Firstly, expand distribution system. If we do not have distribution system, it is no difference to producing a car while there is no road to drive. We have been obliged by contract to purchase electricity produced by the plant. In order to have distribution system, we need capital. I am calling on all partners, which include China, India and other private stakeholders, to expand distribution system and national level transmission lines to sub-national level. We get to bring it to some provinces that the national electricity has not yet covered and on to people’s homes in villages in order to cut down dependence on high-price electricity from private generators.
Secondly, strengthen national transmission lines. We have experienced the other day when our weak national transmission lines could not survive cut of electricity in Vietnam leading to a blackout in the whole country. We have a national line along the national road 3 from Preah Sihanouk to Phnom Penh. We want another line along the national road 4 from Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk to alternate cut off on one line and we will have the other to secure. Maybe Ambassador Bu Jianguo will inform HE Xi Jinping or HE Li Keqiang to take Cambodia’s plea for more capital into consideration. We have signed to receive some 100 million USD from France for transmission line between Kompong Som and Tatay.
Thirdly, implement program to lower electricity prices. Some countries have adjusted their electricity price from step one up to two and three, while we are working downward from step nine to eight, seven and six. Price of electricity relates directly to production competition and people’s living condition. We aim to get benefit for people who consume 50 kVA and below. First, we ensure that workers in Phnom Penh will benefit and later people in various towns where workers stay. We are working to lower price for those who consume less to help them with save expenses.
Cambodia in Peace, Stability and Development
As HM the King is about take off from Vientiane to return to Phnom Penh, I am in a hurry to let the helicopter take me to the International Airport of Phnom Penh at Pochentong and change my dress to receive HM the King on his return. I think I have this much to say and for the end of 2015, we have this Tatay hydropower plant as a present for people not only in Koh Kong province but also in Pursat and further on to Battambang, Banteay Meanjei, Siemreap and Phnom Penh too. I have no political message whatsoever. The most important message of all is Cambodia is in peace, stability, and development. Cambodia is not in any political crisis. Who would think there is a crisis, it would be up to them. It is his or her crisis. People of the whole country are happy. Take for instance we do not fail to put the plant into official operation just for one or two people. Cambodia, I affirm, is in peace, stability and development./.