Why your electricity tokens have reduced by half

[File, The Standard]

A Sh1000 note today will get you 38.32 units of electricity, compared to 62.72 units same period last year.

The reduction in token amount, now three weeks rolling, has caught many Kenyans unaware, and tongues wagging.

A spot check by The Standard shows the breakdown of Sh1000 worth of tokens as follows as of April 13, 2023: Amount: Sh1000, Token amount: Sh624.61, Units:38.32, while other charges such as Value Added Tax (VAT)- which Kenya Power now no longer lists- incur Sh375.39.

Compared to last year same period when a similar amount of Sh1,000 would get you 62 units of power, while the token amount would cost you Sh483.19. Then, KPLC while sending the billing to consumers would break down the cost of every charge including VAT, Fuel energy charge, Forex charge, EPRA charge, inflation adjustment and others.

“I used to buy tokens worth Sh1000 for power and other services in my shop that would serve me for two months. I don’t understand the sudden change…the same amount can no longer serve me as it used to,” Tobias Magak, a businessman in Nairobi told The Standard.

Magak lamented over the increased cost of electricity as he wondered about the purpose additional charges on electricity bills serve. Similarly, netizens have caused an uproar over the high power costs. 

Initially, Kenya Power would send a breakdown of the bill showing forex and fuel adjustment charges, VAT, EPRA levy, inflation adjustment, and water regulator fees to their consumers upon paying.

The power company ceased sending the detailed bill due to customers’ complaints.

Kenya Power made a similar move in 2020 before its turnaround amid a probe from Parliament and the energy regulator, EPRA.

Even though some consumers view the detailed billing as a form of transparency, others don't understand it. 

“I recently bought tokens worth Sh500. I was surprised to see that only Sh188 was used to purchase electricity, giving me 24 units of power,” Malindi MP Amina Mnyanzi told the House yesterday.

“This means the remaining Sh312 covered some charges which are incomprehensible to me. So can a common Kenyan afford electricity and understand what the charges are for?”

Mnyanzi raised the question on the floor of the House on Wednesday, April 12, where a motion was moved by Laikipia County Woman Representative Jane Kagiri on lowering electricity costs.

According to the new tariffs, consumers using between 30 to 100 units will now bear the brunt of an increase of 63 percent in price.

Chief Economist Ken Gichinga avows that the low dollar exchange rates and low water levels at hydroelectric power plants are the main contributors to the increase in the price of electricity.

“Battling the exchange rate component which has weakened the Kenyan shilling against the dollar and the prolonged drought that lowered the water levels in the electricity generation reservoirs could be the possible cause for the price increase,” he said.

Gichinga hopes that the high power costs in the country will reduce in a few months following the start of the long rains, which will result in increased water levels in the dams and other hydroelectric sources.

In February this year, Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir said Kenyans should expect slightly high power costs owing to the low water levels at the country’s largest electricity generation reservoir, Masinga Dam.

"The only challenge is that we might get power being slightly expensive because we are ramping up the diesel more than we ordinarily should be doing,” the CS said.

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