Davis Chirchir: I will lower the cost of electricity

Davis Chirchir, CS nominee for Energy and Petroleum. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Energy and Petroleum CS nominee Davis Chirchir has said that he will relook at the balance sheet of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to see where it has been going wrong for the incurred losses.

"We need to restructure the Kenya Power balance sheet," he said adding that there is a lot of work that needs to be done by the ministry to lower the cost of electricity as well.

He says that KPLC needs to look at Kenyans as its customers and treat them well. "The customer service and relationship should be improved within KPLC," he said.

According to Chirchir some of the issues that have rocked KPLC hence the losses are that it has contracted companies and parastatals to do certain tasks but KPLC ends up doing the same jobs it had paid for.

"We need to look at the cost structure of our parastatals," he said. He said that there was a need to support and reengineer the way they all do business.

He also said that there has to be a review of the contracts between Geothermal, Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) and KPLC and harmonize their working relationship.

When tasked to explain the high cost of electricity he said that the production cost does not warrant the high cost. "We must look at our distribution cost," he said.

"I understand the sector and the challenges that afflict this industry," he said assuring the MPs that he was up to the task.

The 62-year-old said that his ministry will go back to the drawing board to solve the issues in the energy sector, a docket he held during the first term of the Jubilee government but was forced to step down after only two years, following the mention of his name in the infamous chicken gate scandal that rocked the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission at the time.

When asked about whether he was cleared from the scandal where the directors of Smith and Ouzaman were jailed for giving Sh50 million to win a contract to print the 2013 election materials, Chirchir said that he had been cleared.

"I have a letter done to the National Assembly clerk which absolves me of any liability in terms of those who were found culpable," he said.

Chirchir revealed that his net worth is Sh482 million, which comes from farms, a house in Spring Valley, rental property in Westlands, vehicles, bank accounts and investments in a family tea addition business.

According to Chirchir Kenya is the sixth largest geothermal user worldwide and more needs to be done to ensure that the energy generated is also being distributed for use.

"There are no quick fixes, we must do proper planning and get the correct power mix and leave the diesel generators to support picking and for emergencies," he said.

He said having the generators as a permanent feature to contribute to the national grid, as currently is, was not sustainable since it is expensive and does harm to the environment. "We must reduce the use of fossil fuel," he said adding that "We need to generate more from geothermal."

When asked by Kathiani MP Robert Mbui how he made Sh18 million in 2022 as the Deputy President's (DP) chief of staff. He said that he earned Sh3 million from his previous sources, at the DP's office he says that he earned 6 months at Sh764,000 and that he utilized a car grant of Sh10 million.

He said that he will also prioritize the connection of more homes to electricity.

When asked by Belgut MP Nelson Koech why power keeps going off when it rains he blamed the problem on what he called a weak power network and at times trees falling on power lines as well as vandalism.

When asked on the issue of the notoriety of KPLC staff of disconnecting power when people have balances yet the meter reading is done physically and it takes time to pay the bill he said that his ministry will embark on collecting revenue using smart meters.

When asked by Rahim Dawood, North Imenti MP why Kenyans are yet to start enjoying the fruits of the Turkana oil, he said that the crude despite refining was not yet up to the required standard and Kenya was forced to continue importing expensive crude. "The fuel was not clean and we had to shut it down," he said.

He said that if he is approved, he will tell the company to start pulling the product since we need to start producing our fuel since the global markets were unpredictable.

He also said that the ministry will create the capacity to store fuel to address shortages, which he said was tricky since they can also work against Kenyans.

"We will build strong tankage for enough storage but will need to be balanced so that it does not work against us," he said.

When asked by Sako MP Dido Raso and Balambala MP Shuriye Omar how he intends to see that residents who reside near the Lake Turkana wind power project and the Garissa solar project benefit, he said that once power has been generated from the two areas some power is left to maintain the systems and that he will work to increase it and create sub-stations to distribute the power to locals.

He also said one of his main focuses when he assumes office is to see Kenyans ditch dirty fuel for clean energy, saying that he would see the acceleration of the gas facility in Mombasa to make cooking gas more available to Kenyans.

"There is work to be done in the energy sector and we are up to the task," he said in his closing remarks.

"We will develop under my leadership once confirmed in the area of renewable energy, in geothermal, in the wind and solar," he added.