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Kenyans warned of high power bills

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – Kenyans may soon revert to paying high electricity bills owing to the use of emergency power following a forecast of a spell of low rain towards the end of the year.

Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said emergency power generation that was decommissioned following heavy rains at the start of the year would be re-introduced if the dams are not able to meet the electricity demand.

“If a drought comes tomorrow there is no simple answer to that. We may have to re-introduce the emergency power to take care of us in the short term,” Mr Murungi said.

The Meteorological Department expects a dry spell to begin from mid next month and carry through to 2011.

Low rainfall will adversely affect the country’s capability to generate power from the hydro sources that are currently being used.

This means the country may have to turn to thermal power generation that is more expensive.

In March, KenGen retired 110MW of emergency power leaving 140MW, which was meant to run until December this year.

It has also given notice to power distributor KPLC, to terminate a contract it still holds for 40MW of emergency power.

Mr Murungi said the ministry with other stakeholders was working on ways to harness other clean sources of energy such as wind and geothermal to ensure power generation is sustainable.

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“We are now focusing on geothermal development and harnessing power from wind farms to ensure we have sustainable electricity supply at a lower cost,” he said.

The ministry is also mulling harvesting solar energy power, but the Minister said given its high cost of development would require huge investment.

He said the ministry was embarking on a project to introduce solar lamps to phase out kerosene lamps that are currently in the market.

He did however not specify when the project would start or how much it would cost.

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