MPs roast Epra for power tariff hike without their input

Energy CS Davis Chirchir, KPLC General Manager, Infrastructure Development Eng Peter Njenga and Energy and EPRA Director General Daniel Kiptoo when they appeared before the National Assembly Energy Committee at County Hall, Parliament on July 11, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) was yesterday under fire from MPs for hiking the cost of power in April without consulting Parliament.

The energy industry regulator in late March published a new electricity tariff that raised the cost of power for most consumer categories. 

Epra had undertaken public participation in different towns across the country but appears to have failed to consult Parliament, specifically the Energy Committee. 

“Why did you feel that Parliament is not key in making the decision to increase prices of electricity?” Committee Chairman Vincent Musyoka asked Epra Director General Daniel Kiptoo when he appeared before the committee yesterday. 

Mr Musyoka said MPs might in future require Epra to get a nod from Parliament before approving electricity tariffs.

The Energy Act, 2019 empowers the regulator to change the electricity tariffs but has to subject the process to public participation.

“In future, we might consider approval of such rates by Parliament. Epra should exercise its powers with caution.”

Mr Kiptoo, alongside other senior Energy Ministry officials, was meeting the committee to discuss the high cost of power in the country.

The regulator has been under the spotlight lately for raising fuel pump prices following the enactment of the Finance Bill, 2023 despite a court order barring its implementation over a raft of controversial tax measures.

In the new tariff that was effected on April 1, power costs for the ordinary domestic consumer two (DC2) category went up to Sh31.75 per unit from Sh27.92.

Ordinary domestic consumers category two covers households consuming over 100 units of electricity per month.

The cost of power for these consumers has since gone up to Sh33.54 from June, although Epra said this would go down by Sh1.40 a unit later this month.

The cost of a unit of power for this consumer category went up from Sh21.87 in August last year when the regulator started passing higher fuel and foreign exchange costs on to consumers.

It had refrained from increasing to support the former Jubilee administration’s tariff that had reduced power prices by 15 per cent and had been in place since January 2022.

Mr Kiptoo explained that Epra had gone around the country seeking views from Kenyans before announcing the new tariff. Gem MP and committee member Elisha Odhiambo,  however, cast doubt as to whether Kenyans could agree to an increase in the cost of power.

“I doubt that Kenyans would agree to an increase in the cost of power even by Sh2,” he said. 

Other than the consumers, Mr Kiptoo further noted that Epra had also consulted industry players and stakeholders as it sought to balance the needs of the industry and protect consumers in determining new prices. 

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