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KPLC transformer plant plan goes mute

By By Njiraini Muchira | January 25th 2013

By Njiraini Muchira

Kenyans will have to wait a little longer for cheaper power. This is as the country’s electricity distributor continues to depend on expensive imported transformers.

Kenya Power has been chalking up heavy losses as a result of frequent transformer vandalism. To stem the cost of replacing them, the utility firm had planned to invest in a local transformer manufacturing plant. However, these plans now hang in the balance due to lack of enthusiasm from international companies and the understanding that the company cannot fund the project on its own.

Estimates show the plant, which was to be implemented under a build operate and transfer structure, would cost Sh5 billion and would have a capacity to produce 20,000 transformers per year. 

The Standard has established that two years after the idea was conceived, Kenya Power has decided to go slow on the plant that was touted as key in accelerating electricity connections amid rising demand. “The company has by all means shelved plans for the transformer plant largely because of the cost implications,” said a source.

When contacted, Kenya Power spokesperson Migwi Theuri said he was out of the office and required time to find out the status of the project. “I cannot be able to tell the status at this point,” he said.

Kenya Power advertised tender calling for expression of interest from consultants to conduct a study on the viability of the plant in February 2011 and again in June last year before going silent on the plant.

The plant is critical in helping the country meet growing demand for electricity. Currently, the Company depends on imports from Europe and Asia that take up to nine months to arrive in the country. The company, which has two million customers, has stepped up connections with a target of adding at least 200,000 Kenyans into the grid annually.

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