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Meru strikes Sh20b deal for wind power generation

By WAINAINA NDUNG'U | Published Sat, June 27th 2015 at 00:00, Updated June 26th 2015 at 23:29 GMT +3
Youth Enterprise Development Fund Director Lucia Karimi (writing) with a client during the Meru Investment and Development Forum at Kenya Methodist University in Meru County yesterday. Left: A Philips Kenya official explains to a potential client how the gadget works. [PHOTOS: KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD]

Meru County has struck a deal with two corporates that could see the county get two wind farms generating 440 megawatt of electricity once completed.

The main wind farm will be be set up jointly with the Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) in Tigania West near the Isiolo International Airport.

The project, to cost €100 million (about Sh11 billion) in the first phase and generating 50Mw, is likely to be a joint venture between the county government and Kengen.

Kengen Business Development Manager Moses Wekesa said the farm will be set up on 18,700 acres of trust land formerly under the defunct Nyambene County Council.

"We have since engaged consultants who have determined a potential of 400Mw and we are likely to get into a partnership with the county government," said Mr Wekesa.

In the partnership being explored between Kengen and the county government, the latter's contribution would be the land.

Wekesa said Kengen will soon invite bids for construction of the project as it had completed designs and approval processes and was trying to identify financiers.

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The second wind farm proposed for the county is being built by Blue Sea Energy at $100 million (Sh9.8 billion) with a capacity to produce 40Mw.

The wind farm will sit on leased 30-acre plots at Ntumburi in Buuri where the company said it had established good wind power potential.

The company's chairman David Ikiara and Director Guru Rajan said they have partnered with Sichuan Fortune Investment Company/Sichuan China Machinery Engineering consortium to construct the project in an area of 12 square kilometres comprising of 27 wind masts. The 30 acres will be leased from land owners for 30 years.

"We are waiting for the final government approvals and then do a ground breaking because we have already acquired adequate financing," said Ikiara adding that their Chinese partners produced 7,000MW in other plants in China, India and USA.

Speaking during the opening of the County Investors Conference, Meru Governor Peter Munya said they were grand that the energy sector had in particular been attractive to investors.

But the KenGen project is likely to get into headwinds because it is proposed to sit on a parcel of land that residents have petitioned the National Land Commission (NLC) to be declared a settlement scheme.

Claimants of the land have been pushing to have it allocated to them as a settlement scheme and one of their leaders Mwenda Thiribi said yesterday that the 18,000 residents will challenge the project if they found out that it was intended to sit on the contested trust land.

The prime land in the immediate vicinity of Isiolo International Airport (under construction) is in a controversial scheme mooted in the 90s by the defunct Nyambene County Council to create a township called Nturingwi B Market. A big portion mostly in Tigania West was never adjudicated.

But Wekesa said Kengen was not aware that the ownership of the land in the area was contested and they had not considered paying any claimants because this was trust land under the county government.

"The county government will be responsible for sorting the issues related to land and Kengen will finance the project," he said.

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