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Epra in dilemma over locals, county roles in mini-grids

BUSINESS
By Graham Kajilwa | August 3rd 2021

Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) acting Director General Daniel Kiptoo addressing the press during a public and stakeholders consultation meeting in Nakuru on eleven new draft petroleum regulations.[Kennedy Gachuhi,Standard]

The move to have counties get monetary benefits from the development of mini-grids in their locality has left the energy regulator in a dilemma even as the State moves to increase power production across the country.

Balancing community interests and those of counties still pose a challenge to the energy regulator as it drafts regulations that are expected to detail the role of the counties and communities in setting up mini power grids.

The regulations contained in The Draft Energy (Mini-Grid) Regulations, 2021 are meant to manage developers of mini-grids of up to one megawatt - equivalent to 3,000 homes.

Wilfred Baya a representative from Kilifi County noted during a public participation event that while the formal process starts with the community, county governments ought to be informed first.

“I do not think it will be fair for the community to be involved first and we just come in to sign the agreement,” he said. “Can we also restructure the tariffs so that a certain percentage goes to the county?”

The session was moderated by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority’s (Epra) Senior Pricing Analyst Leonard Yegon who said giving counties a cut in the project would result in higher tariffs.

“We have seen even in Meru and West Pokot counties have proposed to charge because you (mini-grid developer) is utilising resources in the county but it is to the detriment of the community because you have to pass the cost to them,” he said.

The process, he said starts from the community then relevant county governments.

Nickson Bukachi from Epra said any contract signed between the developer and community becomes active noting that counties just endorse the project. “If the developer wants to do a project without a say from the community, then it will pose a challenge as it will appear that it is being imposed on them,” said Bukachi.

 

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