Kengen drops 110mw emergency power

March 31, 2010

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – The Kenya Electricity Generating Company, KenGen, was on Wednesday set to terminate receiving 110 megawatts of emergency power from independent producers, signaling some relief from high bills.

KenGen Managing Director Eddy Njoroge told journalists this was due to the ongoing rains that have had a significant impact on dam levels, which he added, should be at full capacity soon.

“We are very optimistic. In the last few days the dam levels have really been rising. As you know we had emergency power which contract comes to an end today and we may not renew part of it,” Mr Njoroge said adding they would step up hydro generation in the coming months.

The firm expected benefits to trickle down to the consumer as they cut down on thermal power generation. The fuel charge in consumer electricity bills is usually a pass-through cost by KPLC.

KenGen currently employs 250MW of emergency power, indicating that only 140MW would remain in use.

Mr Njoroge revealed that they were looking to sign a contract for a back up capacity of 50 megawatts as they get rid of the 110 megawatts but said that was also under review.

“We had requested for 50 megawatts as a new tender as we retire the 110 but what we are reviewing today (Wednesday) is whether or not to go ahead with that depending on the energy balance,” Mr Njoroge said.

As the largest power producer, KenGen has a total installed capacity of 1,002 megawatts. Of this 700MW is under hydro generation, 195MW geothermal, 75MW thermal and a further 60MW from gas turbines.

Mr Njoroge said KenGen was currently testing the Olkaria II geothermal plant and expects it to add an additional 35MW to the national grid in 30 days.

The Tana River hydro station is also under review and is expected to begin power generation in a month’s time adding a further 20MW.

The Masinga Dam, Kenya’s largest, is currently seven meters shy of maximum capacity at 1,093 meters with a spill capacity of 1,156 meters while the Turkwell dam is currently at 1,119 meters and fills at 1,150 meters.

Mr Njoroge however indicated the long-term goal was to intensify geothermal power production, which has an untapped potential of 7,000MW.

To speed up the process, KenGen is looking towards using mini wells around potential plants that would be incorporated into the national grid.

“The thing is for every well that we drill are we able to tap into it. The idea is to use well head generators before we put up the big power plant around that,” he said.

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