Electricite du Cambodge Begins Residential Electricity Overhaul

Two weeks after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a government initiative to slash the price workers pay for electricity by preventing landlords from overcharging tenants, state-run Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) began the process of fitting rented rooms with its own meters Thursday.

EdC director-general Keo Ratanak, who toured apartment blocks in Russei Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune along with a phalanx of subordinates Thursday, said the plan was “good for the tenant, good for the landlord, good for EdC.”

Electricite du Cambodge employees inspect the electrical system outside an apartment building in Phnom Penh's Russei Keo district Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Electricite du Cambodge employees inspect the electrical system outside an apartment building in Phnom Penh’s Russei Keo district Thursday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Although landlords expressed their dissatisfaction with the plan in initial meetings with the EdC last week, Mr. Ratanak said that apartment owners were “happy” because they no longer needed to maintain their own electrical infrastructure and suffer costly leaks.

The scheme will see renters paying between 610 and 820 riel (about $0.15 to $0.20) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) directly to EdC, down from what Mr. Rattanak said were prices of up to 2,500 riel (about $0.62) per kWh being charged by landlords.

“There are people who exploit the system and mark it up,” he said, adding that reports that workers were upset at having to pay a 30,000 riel (about $7.40) deposit for the new boxes were “an exaggeration.”

“It’s not a problem for the workers,” he said, explaining that the savings from the new arrangement would far outweigh the cost.

Rin Srey Mom, a 25-year-old garment worker, said she was thrilled with the new plan.

“I am so happy that now I do not have to pay as much as before,” she said.

EdC plans to spend some $2 million for 40,000 electrical boxes in Phnom Penh. Upon announcing the initiative, Mr. Hun Sen said it would also be implemented in provincial areas where workers rent rooms.

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