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KPLC adds fuel to plans

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has announced plans to fast track its ‘least cost power development plan’ in an effort to avoid electricity shortfalls.

The company has invited expressions of interest for the development of up to three 60–80 MW medium speed diesel power plants in Athi River or its environs.

The move comes just days after the Ministry of Energy announced plans to extend the tenure of independent power producers due to poor rains that have affected generation at the Seven Forks Dams, the country’s main source of hydro- energy.

“The additional generation capacity will also enable the retirement of the emergency power, 50 MW of which would have been retired by end of next month with the rest being retired in December this year,” said a statement from KPLC.

“However, in light of poor hydrological conditions at the Seven Forks dams, negotiations are in progress to extend the contract for the 50 MW to December, to avoid a shortage of electricity, with its attendant rationing, ” a statement from the company indicated.

The power from the plants will be fed into the national grid.

“The plants, which will become operational in 2010, are included in the long term least cost national power plan, and will be developed at a time of increased national electricity demand, which has risen considerably in the recent past as a result of improved economic performance, accelerated customer connection and enhanced rural electrification,” the statement read.

 According to the company, such plants have a short implementation lead time and will thus meet the immediate shortfall gap as other plants based on sources like coal, geothermal and wind are implemented.

Currently, the interconnected capacity is 1,331 MW against an effective capacity of 1,245 MW. The effective capacity comprises 692 MW hydropower, 163 MW geothermal and 390 MW thermal, which includes 146 MW of the emergency capacity.

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In December 2008, KPLC recorded a peak demand of 1,072 MW, leaving a reserve capacity of below five percent compared to the desirable 15 percent required to take care of planned and unplanned system outages.

KPLC estimates that the peak demand is suppressed by 100 MW and would rise to 1,172 MW if there was adequate capacity to meet demand. In light of this situation, the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) has recommended that the installed capacity be increased to at least 30 percent by 2015 to support the goals of Vision 2030. 

Kenya’s electricity access although fast rising, still remains low at 18 percent; and is planned to increase to 40 percent by 2020, which will require the timely development of new generating plants.

Subsequently, according to the national power development plan, ongoing and committed power generation projects will inject an additional 1,623 MW in the period 2009 and 2015; against a forecast demand of 2,242 by 2015.

The planned plants include Mumias co-generation (26 MW), Iberafrica extensions (82.5), Rabai (88.6 MW), Aeolus wind (50 MW), Lake Turkana Wind (300 MW), Ngong wind (5.1 MW), Kiambere upgrade (20 MW), Tana redevelopment ((10 MW), Olkaria II 3rd unit (35 MW), New Kipevu (100 MW), Sangoro hydro (21 MW), Coal project (300 MW), Kindaruma 3rd unit (25 MW), Olkaria IV (140 MW), Ethiopia import (400 MW). 

Once the plants are operational, the installed capacity in the national grid is expected to double in seven years.

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