Masinga dam risks closure over drought

The government has sounded the alarm over possible shut down of Masinga Hydroelectric Power Station if the ongoing drought persists for the next two months. Masinga’s minimum operating level is normally 1,037 metres.

Water levels at the dam, which is the main reservoir of the Seven Fork hydro stations, had gone down to 1,048.31 metres in January and is said to have further decreased this month.

Water levels Energy and Petroleum Cabinet secretary Charles Keter warned that water levels at the Masinga dam are “just about to get to the minimum operating level” which could see hydro-generation activities halted.

“We may be forced to shut Masinga dam down if it doesn’t rain in the next two months, its water levels are down and may not generate its about 40 megawatt it produces. We are hopeful, however, that we will see some rains,” said Keter yesterday.

Addressing the media on the sidelines of National Assembly’s departmental committee on Energy Regulation induction workshop, Keter however ruled out power rationing, in the event this happens. As a result the country will be dependent on geothermal power which he termed as very expensive.

The dam was last year shut down twice over the perennial drought. Shutting down the power station could lead to over-reliance on diesel-powered thermal plants thus leading to increased power tariff for consumers.

The switching off of the Masinga Power station will allow water to be released to feed the other power stations downstream including Kamburu, Gitaru and Kiambere. Keter hinted that the State-owned electricity producer, KenGen, will be forced to shut down its power plant if levels fall below 1,035.5 metres.

“If it rains, I don’t think we will have a lot of disruption, but if we don’t get the rains by then, there will be quite some disruption,” said Energy Principal secretary Joseph Njoroge.

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