REREC now eyes partnership with counties to establish Energy Centres

Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation Chairman Simon Gicharu [left] is shown Megasun Solar by centre Manager at Mtwapa energy centre, Killian Mwangudza [2nd left]. (Omondi Onyango, Standard)
Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) will partner with all the 47 county governments to establish Energy centres.

REREC chairman, Prof Simon Gicharu said that they shall be engaging with Governors from all the 47 counties to ensure that the Energy centres are professionally managed for the benefit of local communities at the grassroots level.

Speaking after completion of a working tour of Coast region, Gicharu said that REREC has now taken over the Energy Centres that were formerly under the Energy Ministry after a Presidential ascension of the Energy Act, 2019 on March 14, 2019, the board.

He said that in areas where none exists, they hope that County governments will provide land for their establishments.

REREC will require close to Sh600 million to put up the energy centres in areas with none.

Prof Gicharu announced that they are keen to start work and in two years’ time have all the 47 counties covered.

Currently, there are 16 Energy Centres in several parts of the country.

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Areas where the Energy Centres are located include Mtwapa (Kilifi), Bukura (Kakamega), Busia, Garissa , Homa Baya, Jamhuri (Nairobi), Kericho, Kisii, Kitui, Lodwar (Turkana), ,Marsabit, Migori, Mitunguu (Meru) Mirangine (Nyandarua), Wajir and Wambugu in Nyeri County.

The Energy Centres were established in 1980s as the technical outreach arm of the Ministry of Energy.

''They were initially to address the growing problem of wood fuel supply and demand imbalance by promoting agroforestry as an intervention on farm wood supply,'' Gicharu said.

The centres offer programs on renewable energy, technology demonstrations and training covering a range of technologies such as biogas, improved cookstoves, improved -efficiency charcoal and cook stove kilns, wind and energy efficient devices ( fireless cookers).

The Energy Centres also offer technical assistance and training to prospective individual and groups, information and awareness raising on topical energy issues as well as multi-purpose tree seedling production and skills transfer to support on-farm wood fuel supply.

Gicharu who made an extensive tour of the Mtwapa Energy Centre urged communities to take advantage of the existence of such establishments to get knowledge and skills upgrade being offered.

The Mtwapa Energy Centre sits on a 20-acre parcel of land and has various demonstration stands.

''We now have more responsibilities and even bigger mandate from the previous five to over ten mandates namely to oversee rural electrification programme, manage rural electrification programme fund and establish energy centres in counties,'' Gicharu said.

He added that the new entity will also be responsible for developing and updating the renewable energy master plan while accounting for equity in the development of renewable energy resources.

Gicharu said that the Garissa Solar Power Plant that has an installed 54.64 megawatts (MW) currently raking in revenue of Sh431,646 million.

''This is extremely excellent news. In fact, this year when we were experiencing drought, there was little power outages experienced with other areas not experiencing any form of power rationing.

The Garissa plant is contributing 2 per cent of power it produces currently to the national electricity grid.

At the same time, Gicharu said that they are awaiting government nod before they employ an additional 165 new staff due to their now expanded mandate in order to build capacity and to strengthen current position as a corporation.

''We as a corporation fully commit to do all that we are mandated and go an extra mile to ensure the vision of clean energy is realised and achieve the Big Four agenda and Vision 2030,'' Gicharu said.

He announced that they will strengthen their research division in order to continue and acquire more innovative, world-class best practices to achieve energy conservation.

He, at the same time, said that they will farther engage the citizens as well as the Kenyan government on the creation of conducive policies in order to achieve the noble task of sustainability in renewable energy.

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RERECSimon GicharuRural ElectrificationElectricity