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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

KPLC insists electricity bills won’t jump on biting drought

Outgoing Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo handing over to the incoming Ken Tarus as the Acting Managing Director./FILE
Outgoing Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo handing over to the incoming Ken Tarus as the Acting Managing Director./FILE

Continued falling water levels in hydroelectric dams will not result in higher electricity bills for households and businesses, Kenya Power insisted yesterday.

Acting chief executive Ken Tarus said the country is being cushioned by geothermal, wind and solar energy, which are bridging the gap created by reduced hydropower generation.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, however, indicate that the cost of power went up in February. Households who consumed 50Kwh paid an average Sh588.20, up from Sh557.40 in January, a 5.5 per cent increase. Consumers of 200Kwh parted with Sh3,691.1 up from Sh3,568.1 in January, a 3.4 per cent jump.

The water level of Masinga Dam, which is the main reservoir of Seven Forks hydro stations, has gone further below the 1,048.31 metres recorded in January. Sondu Miriu was 1,402 metres, and is feared to have further dropped.

Minimum levels for the two dams to effectively generate electricity is 1,037metres and 1,400 metres, respectively.

State-owned electricity producer KenGen has switched on diesel-run generators for expensive thermal electricity to supplement hydro-electric power.

Last week, the Energy Regulatory Commission in its monthly review, raised the price of diesel by Sh1.17 per litre.

Diesel, the fuel used in power generation, is currently trading at Sh90.44 in Nairobi up from Sh89.26, which is likely to push up the cost of production, with KenGen being forced to recover through the Fuel Cost Charge Levy.

Tarus, however, said the developments will not affect electricity bills in the near future.

“Looking at the hydrological conditions that exists in the country at the moment, we have been able to switch to the other options of generation, we are now taking advantage of the generation coming from geothermal, wind and solar to cushion the reduction in generation of hydro power coming from low water levels ,” Tarus said during a media briefing.

He said the Fuel Cost Charges which dropped to Sh2.85 per kilowatt hour in December 2016, from a high of Sh7.22 per kilowatt hour in July 2014, has remained at a manageable level.

“Lately you have not seen that (FCC) growing significantly and therefore we do not expect to see any increase in tariffs in the near future,” he said “Incidentally as a country we are expecting to see rains in the next couple of weeks, and we expect that is going to help us fill up the dams so that we get back to generation from hydro, which is our cheapest source of power.”

Kenya Power's latest data shows the country’s energy mix dispatched has improved from 53 per cent hydro, 25 per cent thermal and 20 per cent geothermal in June 2013 to 41 per cent hydro, 13 per cent thermal and 40 per cent geothermal as at the end of December 2016.

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