Dam in Sesan Begins Operations

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The Lower Sesan II Dam, an $800 million project, was officially launched yesterday after more than four years of construction.

The Lower Sesan II Dam, an $800 million project, launches yesterday after more than four years of construction. AKP

The dam is Cambodia’s biggest power-generation infrastructure, and will account for 20 percent of the country’s output.

A joint venture of China’s Hydrolancang International Energy (51 percent ownership), local firm Royal Group (39 percent), and Vietnam’s EVNI (10 percent), the Lower Sesan II Dam is the seventh hydropower project in the country.

The project is located in Steung Treng province’s Sesan district, where the government granted the companies a 45-year concession.

A representative of Hydrolancang International Energy, one of the top 500 power-generating companies in the world, said during the launch that the project showcases the development of the power sector in Cambodia and is in line with China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

“Today marks a new milestone for the development of the power sector in Cambodia with the official launch of the Sesan II hydro dam. It also represents a big achievement in the implementation of the Belt & Road Initiative,” the representative said.

“Sesan II hydro dam is a key project done with the support of the government. Since the start of construction in February 2014, we had to deal with some challenges, but, overall, it has been a pretty smooth journey and we have succeeded.

“Sesan II hydro dam is the biggest power-generation project in Cambodia, representing 20 percent of the country’s output. The power generated from the dam will alleviate the current shortage of power, help reduce the high cost of electricity and contribute to the social development of the country.

“We are committed to creating clean and safe power for the people,” he added.

Suy Sem, the Minister of Mines and Energy, said that the government gave EVNI a license in 2007 to conduct a feasibility study in cooperation with Electricite du Cambodge (EDC). Later, the Royal Group joined them, and finally, after the government granted permission to seek a new foreign partner, Hydrolancang International joined as well.

“The inauguration of the Lower Sesan II hydro dam today represents a big effort by the government to generate more power to meet rising demand,” he said.

Presiding over the ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Sen said it was the first project of its kind that boasted a local firm as an investor.

“It is the first time that we have investment in a huge project like this from local people. Oknha Kith Meng, president of Royal Group, is the first Cambodian investor involved in a hydropower project,” he said.

“I always ask myself: What will happen if we fail to develop the Lower Sesan II dam. What will happen to the power sector and the economy? That’s why we have a joint venture to invest in the project. This source of power doesn’t just supply Steung Treng province,” the premiere stressed.

“The Lower Sesan II dam will impact the development of the whole country. It will supply households, as well as firms in the agricultural, industrial and service sector,” he added.

According to Minister Sem, in the last 20 year power generation has increased gradually in the Kingdom, from 150 megawatts in 1998 to 2,648 MW in 2018, an 18-fold increase.

12,305 Cambodian villages – nearly 87 percent of all villages in the country – are now electrified.

During the ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the cost of electricity for households and the industrial sector will be lowered by more than 100 riel per kilowatt hour starting January.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that the electricity tariff will dropped in 2019 and 2020. I ordered the Electricity Authority and the Ministry of Mines and Energy to conduct a study to continue lowering the cost starting 2021 until 2025,” he said.

“Start next year, rich households, who consume more, will have to pay a higher fee, while poor families, who often consume less, will receive a lower bill. This will help boost production and will make the service sector more competitive.”