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Brace for higher electricity bills soon if dry spell persists, KenGen warns customers

By Joseph Muchiri | Published Fri, February 17th 2017 at 00:00, Updated February 16th 2017 at 21:19 GMT +3
Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) Board of Directors chairman Joshua Choge and Managing Director Albert Mugo officially commission Nguruga community earth dam in Mbeere South, Embu County. (Photo: Joseph Muchiri/Standard)

Expect higher electricity bills soon due to what KenGen says are dwindling levels of water at the main Masinga Dam reservoir and recent fuel pump price hikes.

Managing Director Albert Mugo said Thursday these latest development may necessitate slight upward review of power tariffs.

Mr Mugo said in line with prevailing weather indications, the electricity generating firm has been forced to depend more on geothermal energy as opposed to hydro so as to maintain water levels at their present state.

The firm contributes over 80 per cent of the country’s power demand. Mr Mugo, however, assured Kenyans that adjustments in electricity tariffs would be minimal since water levels at the dam, which currently stand at 1044.75 cubic metres, have not dropped to the lowest levels of 1037, which would necessitate drastic measures.

“We are not yet faced with realities that would force us to contemplate power rationing”, he said at Kamburu Dam after a visit to the Seven Forks Hydro Electricity dams during which he officially commissioned Nguruga community earth dam built at a cost of Sh1.7 million.

Funded jointly by KenGen and the World Bank, the dam is set to alleviate water shortage facing communities at Cieria Village in Mbeere North and will serve over 1,000 residents and 6,000 livestock.

The news came on the same day Kenya Power said it is pushing the Government to pay for the extra cost of generating electricity from the expensive diesel-fired thermal generators to cushion consumers from higher bills due to the prevailing dry conditions (see separate story on page 30).

Yesterday, Mr Mugo also launched a 72-member Seven Forks stakeholder’s coordination committee, whose membership is drawn from Embu, Kitui and Machakos counties.

The committee is part of the company’s initiative to bring on board local communities living near the dams, who are an integral component of decision-making processes when it comes to social and economic issues affecting them. Mugo was accompanied by firm’s board of directors chairman Joshua Choge, Foundation Managing Trustee Mike Njeru and Mwingi North MP John Munuve, among others.

Mr Choge said the earth dam will ease residents’ burden of travelling long distances in search of water as well as avoid the danger of attacks by crocodiles in the nearby Kiambere Dam.

He also urged the Embu, Kitui and Machakos county governments to partner with KenGen in efforts to create long-term sustainable programmes for local communities.