Kirera Mwiti and Fred Aminga @PeopleDailyKe
The government has announced plans to phase out thermal power plants in the next two years in a move that will see the cost of electricity come down drastically.
According to President Uhuru Kenyatta, thermal accounted for 10 per cent of power used in the country with the western part of Kenya relying heavily on it. Currently, Uhuru said, green energy, which includes geothermal, solar, wind and hydro, contributed 90 per cent of electricity pumped into the national grid.
“Plans are underway to phase out thermal power mainly in the western part of the country by 2020 and this will definitely see the cost of electricity come down,” he said.
He was speaking during the ground- breaking ceremony for the 83.3 MW Olkaria 1 additional Unit Six power plant.
While praising the management of KenGen due to is efforts to harness geothermal energy, Uhuru said Kenya was currently ranked number one in Africa in geothermal exploration.
He said that in the last five years, the government had pumped a total of 1060MW into the national grid with 364MW been produced in the last three months.
“The government is committed to increase green energy and in the last three months we have added 310MW from Lake Turkana wind project and another 54MW from Garissa solar project,” he said.
Uhuru said that connecting KenGen directly to the proposed industrial park will significantly lessen the cost of doing business, attract businesses and create jobs.
He directed the ministries of Energy and Trade work closely with the EPZA to fast track the proposed industrialisation park in the town.
Uhuru also said that he was waiting for the Ministry of Energy to reduce the cost of energy targeting small and medium enterprises before passing the same benefits to households.
“At the end of the month I will be checking on bills for SMEs to see if their electricity charge has dropped as I had directed,” he said.
On his part, Energy Cabibet secretary Charles Keter said that KenGen had already pumped 100MW to the coastal region which had replaced thermal power.
He was optimistic that thermal power would soon be a thing of the past as the government and donors put more resources in geothermal whose potential stood at 10,000MW.
“Work at Olkaria V power plant is 76 per cent complete and by July next year it will be ready and will add 165MW to the national grid,” he said.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui said his government was working with KenGen to see more investors take advantage of the cheap power.
“We are in negotiations with some investors to take advantage of the cheap and affordable geothermal power around Olkaria area,” he said.