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August 21, 2018

Kenya Power, ERC ordered to file responses on inflated bills

Kenya power technicians at work. / FILE
Kenya power technicians at work. / FILE

The High Court has directed Kenya Power and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to respond to a petition filed by lawyer Apollo Mboya challenging the increment of Electricity bills.

Justice Chacha Mwita gave directions after the matter came up for hearing but Kenya Power lawyer Kimani Kiragu said he is yet to file the responses.

“We are seeking leave to file the responses as my client has been sick and out of the country. We need to also file the supplementary affidavits as the petitioner has raised three new issues which need time to be addressed,” Kiragu said.

Mboya however said that he was ready to proceed with the matter as he had already filed the submissions.

“I have already filed my submissions as this matter is of public interest and if court grant the respondents stay, I will also have to put submission for the supplementary which will delay the case”, Mboya said.  

Kiragu further argued that court should grant him leave since according to the constitution, court allows leave at any stage in the proceedings.

Justice Chacha however granted an adjournment and directed the parties to file responses and submissions and serve within 14 days. The case will be heard October 9.

In January the energy distributor was barred from sending customers inflated bills to recover Sh8.1 billion. The figure was initially Sh10.1 billion but Sh2 billion was recovered. Justice Mwita issued the temporary orders after lawyer Apollo Mboya and the Electricity Consumers Society filed a class action suit against Kenya Power. The order will remain until the case is heard and determined. There has been public uproar over by the electricity supplier.

The backdated Sh10.1 billion is contained in KPLC's annual report and financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2017.

Mboya wants the company stopped from disconnecting electricity based on the report which, he notes, carries inflated and backdated bills and estimates.

"The court should issue an order directing the company to refund consumers payments made in excess of actual meter readings, on account of the said recovery as contained in its financial estimates."

The petitioners want the court to issue an order directing the Auditor General to form a commission, to conduct a detailed financial and operational forensic audit, to establish the amount that should be recovered.

They also want the court to declare that the company made a false and misleading representation of electricity tariffs and bills to its consumers, thereby infringing on their rights.

Mboya says last October, several consumers began receiving inflated bills yet the company admitted recovering Sh2 billion, allegedly incurred on diesel generation that year. He says the amount was not factored into bills sent so far.

The applicants further contend that Kenya Power, in a letter dated January 10, admitted that there were errors.

Mboya, who is former Law Society of Kenya chairman, further says the monopoly Kenya Power enjoys is unconstitutional.

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