Kenya's coastal region is set to cut its power demand by half following the commissioning of the new Suswa-Isinya-Rabai transmission line.
The 400kV line which was initially charged at 220kV will evacuate up to 150 megawatts of geothermal power from plants in Olkaria to the coast region where demand amounts to about 300 megawatts.
Majority of the Coast region has in the past relied on thermal generators linked to the national grid for electricity supply.
The new line was forged by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company through funding by bilateral lenders managed by the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum and the Ministry of Finance.
The development is set to reduce consumption of thermal power in the region which will in turn result to lower power bills through the reduced monthly fuel cost surcharge. This is estimated to save the consumers at least Sh3.6 billion annually.
“The coastal region has relied on thermal power in the past. It has been expensive. Power bills are set to come down. Black outs are set to be a thing of the past,” lead project engineer Joseph Siror said during the launch.
The Sh20 billion transmission line will also boost supply in Athi River, Kitengela and Makueni while neighbouring states including Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi are set to benefit from available surplus.
“The line will improve the quality and reliability of power supply to the Coast region by delivering excess geothermal power to this area," Kenya Power general manager for network management Daniel Tare said.
The 482km and 440kV line holds a transfer capacity of 1,500MW, 200MW less than the current national demand of about 1,700MW.
In a plan to to replace overhead lines, Kenya Power has also embarked on an underground cabling project which the firm plans to roll-out to other major cities after Nairobi as the state agency moves towards expanding and enhancing the capacity of the power distribution network.