Hope as new power line hits Kisumu

Dreams to turn Kisumu into a regional commercial nucleus through industrial expansion have edged closer to reality after a 1,000-megawatt geothermal power line reached the county.

The line from Olkaria, about 290km away, is expected to stabilise power in the region whose growth prospects have been dimmed by poor supply.

Three rings will deliver 400 kilowatts of power in Kisumu, staving off perennial outages which have left industries staring at losses from having to turn to the more expensive diesel-powered generators.

Speaking at a media workshop in Kisumu on Friday, officials from Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) said the line had reached Kibos Substation. The firm is expected to evacuate the power from the substation and step it down to 132kV at a Kenya Power station in Mamboleo for distribution.

Ketraco officials said the parastatal was negotiating wayleaves for the extension line to Mamboleo.

“Once negotiations with land owners are complete, we will build the line to Kibos and inject it into the national grid,” said Ketraco chairman Eng James Rege. Power surges on the current 75kV line have also resulted in equipment damage.

Western Kenya has largely been relying on electricity from the 60-megawatt Sondu Miriu power plant and expensive gas turbine power station fueled by kerosene at Muhoroni, alongside costly imports from Uganda.

The Miriu plant, the major cheap power source in the area, is less reliable as it does not have a reservoir and only generates power during the rainy season.

Low voltages and unreliable supply have dominated discussions at Kenya Association of Manufacturers’ annual meetings, with blame heaped on Kenya Power, the power distributor