Apr 04 2013
As temperatures rise across the country in anticipation of the *hot season (*insert your expletive of choice here), Phnom Penh’s electricity supplier is struggling to serve the demands of air conditioners and refrigerators across the city. Much of Cambodia’s electricity is generated by water, which becomes a scarcer commodity when it’s hot and dry like now. Load-shedding has begun, where parts of Phnom Penh have their power turned off to ensure important buildings, such as embassies and government ministries, remain cool and lit. So as a traveller, how can you avoid the blackouts?
Whether you will be affected is a bit of a lottery, as the power company Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) isn’t publishing a schedule, or confirming which areas are considered as a low priority for continuous supply. If your hotel doesn’t have its own generator, the blackouts can last between 10 minutes and three hours and the first you’ll know of it is when your fan whispers to a halt. A candid EDC employee has confirmed that the situation is unlikely to improve before the rains come in June.
Like a good Girl Guide, it pays to be prepared, with a torch and a hand- or battery-operated fan in close proximity. You can also do your bit to reduce electricity consumption by ensuring you turn off fans, air-con units and lights when you leave your guesthouse room.
If you really want to avoid being powerless, choose a larger hotel with a backup generator, or plot your booking against government offices and foreign embassies. Many are located along Norodom Boulevard, and the immediate area around Independence Monument is unlikely to ever see a blackout, thanks to the Prime Minister’s residence being right next door.
The Phnom Penh Post reports a blackout tale of two cities
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