The government has promised Kenyans cheaper power under the new tariffs approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). On the face of it, it is easy to believe the narrative that the energy regulator is standing with consumers. However, the finer details reveal that the only person laughing now is Kenya Power and its power suppliers; among them the expensive diesel generators who have continued to make money despite the country making big investments in cheaper energy.
Through the new tariffs, the ERC has punished almost every one including the small-time consumer and massaged the hard hit by dropping the monthly Sh150 fixed charge. According to the new energy tariff backdated to July 1 the first 10 units (KWh) of energy consumed by domestic consumers will now cost Sh12 each from Sh2.5 previously charged. This means that for the first ten units, one will pay Sh120, up from the Sh25. This will be before the other pass-through costs and taxes are loaded.
For the next 40 units consumed, Kenya Power will earn Sh15.80 per unit, up from Sh2.5. In this band once again, a user will pay Sh632 instead of Sh100 charged previously; an increase of more than 600 percent.
There is no respite for domestic consumers who use up to 1,500 units per month, given that they will now pay Sh15.80 per unit for every extra unit consumed in the 51-1,500 unit bracket. It is only after the 1,500th unit that there will be some relief for domestic consumers who will continue paying the standardised Sh15.80, down from the Sh20.57.
But then there are very few domestic consumers who use more than 1,500 units a month. Even then, one will have already paid more for the earlier units consumed. There is simply no relief there. For the small commercial consumers, the Sh150 fixed charge has also been scrapped. But that is where the party stops. For the first 15,000 units used by the small commercial consumers -small shops and outlets such as kiosks, small retail outlets, barber shops and butcheries, one will pay Sh15.80 per unit, up from the Sh13.5.
It means, for instance, if your monthly consumption is 100 units, one will now pay Sh1, 560 compared to the previous Sh1, 350 for the same units. This is a 15 per cent increase.
The more the units consumed, the higher the amounts, until the 1,500th unit is consumed. The trend is almost the same for all the other categories of energy consumers, all the way down to commercial or industrial consumers and street lighting.
Street lighting will now cost Sh7.5 per unit up from Sh4.36. It is only the big manufactures and power consumers who consume bulk power that will see a significant saving when they adjust their production plans to use power at night when the rest of the country is asleep; power that goes to waste anyway.