Why your power bills remain high despite cheaper generation
SEE ALSO :Uhuru set to launch new power stationThis means that increased generation capacity has not been in tandem with the growth in consumption, with demand being suppressed owing to among other factors such as little investments in power transmission that in turn limits uptake from Kenyans who are ready to use electricity at both commercial and domestic levels. Thus while the installed capacity grew to 2,711 megawatts (MW) last year following additional power from wind and solar, peak demand lags at 860MW, indicating a substantial amount of power that goes unused. Universally, it is an accepted practice to have a reserve margin of between 12 and 15 per cent that can be used in case of emergencies such as power plants’ failure. In the case of Kenya, this would be about 300MW, leaving a surplus of 600MW. Industry players note that this capacity can find demand should there be adequate distribution to areas that currently have weak connections to the grid. “We need to have a stable grid. There should be enhancements to the grid as well as a major focus on transmission elements to transmit power generated by the power producers to the consumers,” said Fazal.
SEE ALSO :Wind power saves consumers Sh8b“Without doing that, there is no way we will bring down the cost of power. We must increase the base of consumer and the amount of power consumed in the system. Otherwise, we will continue to have surplus power that is produced but is not consumed for lack of transmission infrastructure.” According to the KNBS, electricity production capacity grew 13.7 per cent in 2018, while demand grew by a much smaller margin of 3.5 per cent. Last year, growth was due to the commissioning of the Garissa Solar Power plant owned by the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (formerly Rural Electrification Authority) and LTWP plant. The two have a combined capacity of 360 megawatts to the national grid. There have been more investments on the generation side and in the course of this year, the Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KenGen) expects to commission its Olkaria V power plant that has a capacity to generate 165.4MW. This will further compound the problem of power plants growing at a faster pace when compared with demand. Power transmission and distribution is a shared responsibility between Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) and Kenya Power, and has come up time and again as an issue of concern for Kenyans. The Auditor General has recently queried the causes of delays for the electricity transmission lines that Ketraco has been constructing. In a recent report, the Auditor General noted that projects worth more than Sh38 billion were facing delays as of June 2015. This value has since more than doubled, with Ketraco in a report to Parliamentary Committee on Energy last year saying the delay in completion of power lines that are valued at more than Sh112 billion. Ketraco then had said it faced myriad challenges in putting up the lines, including land compensation, with the people affected by the projects asking for excessive amounts of money, the encroachment of wayleaves and lengthy public consultation processes. The Energy Ministry has in the past cited landowners as among the major impediments to projects, noting that while the Government had not objected to paying, the value given by the owners was too high. “Some of these challenges include excessive land compensation demands from the project affected persons, lack of clear national policies on wayleave compensation, speculative land subdivisions along the wayleave corridors, numerous political offices that need a consultation, encroachment of the right of way by communities. For instance, there are some 8,000 manyattas recently built along the Ethiopia-Kenya line in Samburu East,” Ketraco said in a statement last year. “There are also too many cases of independent land valuers giving large margins on the same property and security concerns especially in the northern parts of the country that keep disrupting ongoing works.”
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