By Macharia Kamau
An energy audit across the 29 water service providers shows that just a handful have embedded energy saving mechanisms in their operations, with the result being high electricity bills, a cost passed on to consumers.
The most energy-inefficient water companies include Nzoia Water that has absolutely no energy saving mechanism.Mombasa, Kwale, Embu and Kakamega Water Service Companies energy savings amount to just one per cent. Others include Nairobi Water, and Limuru Water that made marginal savings of five per cent each.
“The audits identified energy saving measures worth Sh103 million in savings to the companies, which will be realised by investing Sh12 million in energy saving projects. The overall payback period is 1.16 years,” said the energy audit report for water service providers launched in Nairobi on Friday.
The most common high energy consuming patterns among all the water service providers include use of inefficient lighting and pumps.
“Most energy will be saved by right sizing of pumps, use of energy efficient motors, energy management systems, piping improvements, and repair of faulty pumps,” said the report. The water providers could also significantly cut their power bills and generate income by investing in alternative power production.
These include tapping into solar energy, putting up small hydro and biogas plants, where they could sell excess power generated at the plants to Kenya Power. “These will require Sh1.2 billion in investments with an annual income of Sh314 million giving a simple payback period of four years,” said the report.
Director of Water Services in the ministry of Water Peter Mangiti said a proposed legal framework is expected to significantly improve water supply as well as underlying issues including tackling the power bills, that he said account for 30 per cent of water bills. “Energy has been a thorny issue and takes up to 30 per cent of my time in office,” he said.
“With a new Water Bill that is soon to be presented before Parliament to support devolution of water services to countries... this will bring the role of water services providers and the demand on their performance to even greater focus.”
The audits were undertaken with assistance from the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (Kam), which has in the last ten years been undertaking audits on energy consumption patterns of its members and assisting them implement energy efficient programmes.