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Brace for high power bills as water dips in key dams

Baraka Karama and Noven Owiti @PeopleDailyKe

The cost of power is likely to go up next month if the current dry spell being experienced across the country persists. Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter yesterday asked Kenyans to be ready to pay more for electricity if water levels in major hydroelectric dams dip further in coming days.

Keter said the main hydropower stations including Masinga, Kiambere and Kindaruma, which form the seven folks scheme, were operating below capacity due to months of insufficient rains. Hydroelectric power accounts for 35 per cent or 823 megawatts of Kenya’s generation mix.

This means if the dams are shut down the country will have to rely on thermal plants running on diesel, whose cost is passed on to the consumer. Already Kenya relies on grid 716 megawatts or 30 per cent generated by thermal plants, thus if hydros are out of steam power bills will rise sharply. “We mainly depend on the hydro and the dry spell has negatively impacted on the power supply and we can only wish that it rains or else the effects will be worse, “ said Keter.

The CS said the government is investing in power generation to serve consumers particularly in western Kenya. “We are using a diesel power plant in Muhoroni constituency to mitigate the shortage brought by the ongoing drought and that is very costly.”

The fuel cost charge levied to consumers foots the bill for the generation of electricity from thermal plants. The charge varies every month depending on how much electricity the plants generate and the cost of fuel used.

Early this year, Kenya Power announced it would recover more than Sh10 billion deferred fuel costs accrued last year. The company said that it undercharged consumers last year by not passing the full costs incurred on diesel running thermal plant.

The cost was incurred following the firm’s decision to switch on diesel generators to bridge power deficit occasioned by prolonged drought. “ The dry spell is serious and we do hope that it will rain in the next two weeks,” he said.

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