Kenya Power to work on live lines to minimise supply disruption

The firm has been losing Sh1 billion annually in power disruptions

In Summary
  • The laboratory was set up at a cost of Sh340 million
  • The power distributor has been paying Sh36 million annually to test the Live Line equipment.
Kenya Power offices.
Kenya Power offices.
Image: FILE

Kenya Power has launched a Live Line Laboratory to facilitate repairs and maintenance on high and medium voltage lines without switching off customers.

The lab is the first of its kind in East and Central Africa and it will be used to test and certify equipment used in the Live Line maintenance initiative launched in 2019.

The laboratory was set up at a cost of Sh340 million and was funded by the World Bank under the Kenya Electricity Modernisation Project (KEMP).

The amount is part of a of a Sh2 billion funding the company received from the World Bank for the Live Line Maintenance Project.

“The laboratory will enable the company to test and certify Live Line work tools and equipment and realise savings in terms of payment for these services which were previously outsourced,'' Kenya Power acting MD Geoffery Muli said.

The funding was also utilised to purchase Live Line tools, equipment and insulated trucks as training and certifying staff to join the Live Line teams.

The power distributor has been paying Sh36 million annually to test the Live Line equipment.

Live Line tools such as rubber gloves, link sticks, line hose tester, and insulating blankets are required to be tested every six months or when the need arises while the trucks are tested annually to ensure the safety of staff using them.

Apart from testing and certification of live line equipment and tools, the company intends to expand the scope of the laboratory in the medium term to include insulation verification tests and certifications for other network equipment.

"Plans are also underway to get the laboratory accredited by the Kenya Accreditation Services (KENAS) to enable it to test rubber insulating equipment for other organisations within the country and the region on a commercial basis,'' Muli said.

He added that it will significantly contribute to the gains associated with the Live Line programme such as reduction in unserved energy and improved customer satisfaction.

Through the Live Line technology, new premium customers are being connected to the network without waiting for a shutdown which is a double gain in that the customers are brought on board as soon as they are ready.

The Live Line initiative continues to be a critical component of the company’s practices to ensure the reliability of electricity supply as it allows maintenance of high and medium-voltage networks without switching off customers.

The Live Line team currently comprises 216 staff spread across all regions within the country and 35 trucks. They are doing an average of 2,800 live-work hours per month which translates into 36,600 live-work hours annually.

A typical 5-hour shutdown on a line carrying 200 Amps costs the company Sh250,000 in a lost opportunity to sell electricity.

The 35 live line teams spread across the country are able to work on at least two locations in a week that would have required an outage resulting in a minimum saving on revenue loss of Sh17.5 million per week and Sh1 billion annually.