Cambodia Plans to Open Nine Hydropower Dams by 2019

by Staff Writers
Phnom Penh (AFP) May 19, 2008

Cambodia will construct controversial Chinese-funded dams as part of a plan to feed its electricity-starved economy, according to government documents obtained Monday by AFP.

The Southeast Asian country will open nine dams of various sizes between 2010 and 2019 to generate 1,942 megawatts of power, according to a government report to parliament obtained by AFP. At least four of the dams will be backed by China.

The US-based International Rivers Network last year said that two Chinese-funded hydroelectric dams already under construction threatened to flood huge swathes of Cambodia’s protected forests.

The group said the Kamchay and Stung Atay dams, unchecked by public scrutiny, will wreak havoc on local communities and slow development.

The new government report said the Kamchay hydropower plant will open in 2010, while Stung Atay hydroelectric dam will open in 2012.

“By 2020, all villages will have electric power. (And) by 2030, at least 70 percent of the families countrywide will have electricity use,” the report said.

The government also plans to build nine coal-powered plants between 2011 and 2020, the report said.

Only some 20 percent of Cambodian households currently have access to electricity.

Spiralling utility prices, driven by this lack of supply, are a major obstacle to attracting foreign investment, and the government has struggled to find a way to bring down the cost of power.

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