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Construction of high-voltage electricity line to evacuate power from wind farm in Marsabit County might experience further delays

By Macharia Kamau | Published Wed, December 6th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 5th 2017 at 22:13 GMT +3
Part of the turbines at Lake Turkana Wind Power farm at Sarima, near Lake Turkana in Laisamis, Marsabit County. [Photo by ALI ABDI/STANDARD].

IN SUMMARY

  • Government yet to find a replacement for the Lake Turkana Wind project power transmission line
  • Deadline has been put off several times to mid next year
  • Construction suffered setback after Spanish contractor was declared bankrupt

 

Construction of a high-voltage electricity line to evacuate power from a wind farm in Marsabit County might experience further delays, with the Government yet to find a contractor to replace the bankrupt Isolux Corsán of Spain.

The 428-kilometre line between Loyangalani in Marsabit and Suswa, Narok County, has stalled after the Spanish company filed for bankruptcy in July owing to heavy debt.

The transmission line has failed to meet several deadlines with the more recent one being December last year that was extended to March then June this year. It is meant to evacuate power from the 300-megawatt Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) project that was ready to start production late last year.

Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge said the Government is currently in talks with Spain to find a replacement for the collapsed contractor. The power line is financed by the Spanish government, with one of the conditions being that the overall contractor has to be from Spain.

Eng Njoroge said some of the companies hired by Isolux had continued with construction and were on course to meet the new deadline of mid next year.

“We are in discussion with the Spanish government and expect to have a solution in a short while, maybe in two weeks’ time,” said the PS.

“Meanwhile, the sub-contractors that had already started work on site have continued and we expect that between June and September, we should be able to complete the line and start evacuating the wind energy,” he said.

The ministry is also working to prevent the project costs from escalating due to the delay.

The 400-kilovolt transmission line was initially supposed to cost Sh21 billion when Isolux got the contract in 2011. A new contractor, as well as delays already experienced, might mean more costs for the Kenyan electricity consumer.

This will be in addition to penalties by LTWP, which had been guaranteed that the line would be ready by the time it completed the power plant and in turn give it access to the market.

Due to the delays and hence inability to sell electricity to Kenya Power, the power producer will receive a negotiated compensation of Sh5 billion from the Government, which is likely to be passed to consumers.

Further delays in delivering the line next year could see the firm slap the Government with yet another hefty fine.

“We are trying to make sure that it does not bring any additional cost. That is what we are working on and why it has slightly taken longer,” said Eng Njoroge.