Remarks by Ambassador William A. Heidt at GE Powering Cambodia Workshop

U.S. Embassy photo by Un Yarat
Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh
November 22, 2016

Your Excellency Suy Sem, Minister of Mines and Energy; Your Excellency Victor Jona, Director General of the Ministry of Mines and Energy; Mr. Wouter Van Wersch, GE ASEAN President and CEO; Mr. Dararith Lim, GE Cambodia Country Leader; distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen.

Thank you very much for inviting me to this workshop presented by GE on new technologies and solutions for more efficient and cleaner energy in Cambodia. GE is a world leader in a range of power technologies, including gas, steam, coal, and nuclear generation, as well as grid efficiency, and I’m delighted that it is helping to address some of the key challenges facing Cambodia’s power industry.

I am particularly proud to be here today as GE presents some of its new technologies and power solutions to Cambodia. This workshop is a concrete example of how the American business community can contribute to sustainable economic development in Cambodia.

The government’s Industrial Development Policy has cited energy limitations – both price and supply – among the greatest challenges to Cambodia’s economic growth and industrial diversification. Many investors and economists have told me the same thing.

The idea behind this workshop is to examine some of GE’s cutting edge technologies that could expand and improve the overall efficiency and performance of Cambodia’s power infrastructure and strengthen the energy relationship between Cambodia and the United States. I applaud this important partnership.

Through today’s workshop, GE hopes to cooperate with the Ministry of Mines and Energy to explore opportunities to meet three key Cambodian Government goals: 1) Reducing the expected increase in power demand by 20% by 2035; 2) Reducing national CO2 emissions by 3 million tons by 2035, and; 3) ensuring 100% electrification of rural areas.

I’m particularly happy to see that the workshop includes several sessions on grid and generation efficiency technologies. In 2013, the World Bank reported that Cambodia’s transmission and distribution losses were about 27% of output, which is very high by regional standards. Updating the grid, and making it more efficient, could transform Cambodia’s ability to provide reliable, affordable and universal power to the Cambodian people, with potentially huge cost savings.

This is a lesson we are learning in the United States. In the U.S., smart grid technologies are projected to increase the efficiency of today’s system by around 9% by 2030, saving more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours a year. This translates to more than $40 billion in savings a year.

I’m proud to say that I grew up in a GE town. Although we made locomotives, and not power generation or transmission equipment, I know very well GE’s long history of innovation and quality engineering. This has led to new technologies in healthcare, energy, and transportation and other areas that are now in wide use around the world.

GE has also proven to be a model company in terms of its business practices and corporate social responsibility. I’ve seen this with my own eyes in Cambodia. Since entering the Cambodian market in 2008, GE has donated more than $10 million in healthcare equipment and training to 31 hospitals in provinces across Cambodia.

The Embassy looks forward to working closely with the Cambodian Government, GE, and other top notch American companies to bring more affordable and cleaner power to the Cambodian people, support Cambodia’s economic development, and strengthen the business and economic ties between our two countries.

Thank you very much, and let me wish everyone a very successful workshop.