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Kenya power bills to remain high

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Kenyans should not expect any reprieve from the biting high cost of electricity as the heavy rains in late 2009 did not have the desired effect on dam water levels.

Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) Managing Director Joseph Njoroge said on Friday that though there had been a slight change at the power generating dams, the levels do not warrant a full-scale switch to hydropower.

The country’s power generation mix consists of geothermal, thermal, wind and hydro. The heavy dependence on fuel for the generation of power has translated to higher bills for consumers.

“Unfortunately the fuel cost charge in your bill will remain until power supply in Kenya is stable,” Eng Njoroge said. “We are using a little bit of hydro power but not enough to bring power costs down.”

The rising cost of fuel has also meant that power bills vary from month to month as KPLC makes adjustments depending on the amount paid for fuel in a given month.

The electricity firm sees lower power costs once the country has stable supply of power through the adoption of green energy.

Eng Njoroge was speaking during the signing of a power purchase agreement with the Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited (LTWP) for the supply of 300 megawatts of wind power to the national grid.

The initial phase of the wind farm in Loiyangalani, Marsabit district is expected to start production in March 2012 reaching full production capacity of 300MW by September 2012.

The project is expected to contribute close to 17 percent of Kenya’s installed capacity.

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Once installed, Eng Njoroge said the 300 MW would displace the costly use of thermal generation as well as conserve water levels by minimizing reliance on hydro plants.

Over reliance on hydro has proven costly in the past through load shedding schemes, and is estimated that the drought-induced power crisis of 2006 cost the economy 1.45 percent of its GDP.

LTWP has signed an exclusivity deal with Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas for the construction of 365 wind turbines, each generating 850 Kilowatt.

LTWP Managing Director Henk Hutting said the project would cost close to $635 million (Sh48.1 billion) and urged financiers for the project to avail the funds to ensure the project sticks to its intended deadline.

Kenya requires close to 2,000MW in additional power supplies to the national grid by 2014 to fully energy sufficient.

The Spanish government recently granted Sh2 billion for the expansion of the Ngong Wind Power project currently providing 5.1 MW. When complete, the wind project will provide an additional 5.9 MW bringing the total to 11MW, which experts say could supply 2,000 households with adequate power.

Eng Njoroge said KPLC would be growing the energy reserve margin to 30 percent up from the current 4 percent that has exposed the country to massive blackouts given the rising demand and use of power.


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