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Kenyans to wait longer for cheap wind power, CS says

Kenyans will wait for another four months before they benefit from the 310 megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power project.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter dashed hopes of lower electricity costs, after he said the project will only be making test-runs during the period after which it will be connected to the national grid.

Keter told the Senate Energy Committee that Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) which was to be commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday has been pushed to next month.

“The tests have, however, shown that the wind power is operating above average and there is hope that it will deliver as expected,” he told the committee chaired by vice chairperson Mary Seneta.

The CS said despite the fact that the  wind power will add energy to the national grid, other sources of power including thermal, geothermal and solar will not be retired since they will be used to supplement the grid whose demand has been increasing by day.

“We will retire some of the geo plants but not all, we will need them due to the high demand , again power generated from the  wind power is not consisted and is likely to fluctuate owing to the availability of wind,” said Keter.

The CS also disclosed that Kenya will terminate contracts with companies which have been contracted to produce power since the country is now generating enough electricty.

He, however, said by doing so, the country will pay for the termination of the contracts which were to last 20 years. “The country has already planned to pay Sh9 billion for the termination of the contracts. It is, however, logical to end the contracts at this time instead of continuing paying for what we already have.

Stabilise  flow

The ministry, he said, had also embarked on the construction of underground stations which will be free from interference in a bid to stabilise the flow of power especially in Nairobi, Mombasa and other urban areas.

The country escaped the punishment of a Sh1billion fine a month lateness penalty that would have come into effect had the project further delayed. The largest wind farm in Africa is expected to ease electricity costs that rose by 57 per cent in August when the Energy Regulatory Authority reviewed tariffs.

Kenya has been relying on expensive diesel-fired electricity as a last resort when dam water levels drop to complement the available geothermal power, raising fuel charge levy on power bills. Keter said an additional 55 megawatts of solar power from the Garissa plant is further expected to boost national supply.

He added: “Kenya has for long time depended on thermal power usage which is expensive and unpredictable as it follows climatic patterns. Renewable power like geothermal, wind and solar is dependable and affordable.”

Turkana Wind Power financiers had given Kenya up to September 1, 2018 to complete construction of the power line and connect the power to national grid or risk paying Sh1 billion in penalty.

Construction of the high voltage power experienced several setbacks including land compensations disputes, funding hitch and change of contractors due contractual breach. Construction started in 2015.

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