KenGen cranks up cheap hydro power as bills remain high

Kenya Power Engineers install a transformer in Kiriguri village, Manyatta Constituency of Embu County on November 9, 2023. [Murithi Mugo, Standard]

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has said it will ramp up production of electricity from its hydropower plants in Eastern region after water levels reached the highest point in recent years. 

This, it said, is expected to offer some relief for consumers by lowering power bills. The power producer has in recent months increased production of electricity from the cheaper hydropower plants but this has not had the impact of bringing down the cost of energy.

KenGen yesterday said it has increased hydropower generation after the country’s main dams in the Seven Forks Cascade hit one of the highest water levels in the recent past.

The firm said higher water levels at the dams has been due to Masinga Dam, which is Kenya’s largest, maintaining near maximum water levels of 1,056 metres above sea level, since Saturday. .

“We are happy to report that we are receiving very good inflows from the Mount Kenya and Aberdares catchment areas which has led to high water levels at our dams,” said KenGen Chief Executive Peter Njenga. 

“This will see Kenyans reap the full benefit of cheaper electricity.” The NSE-listed electricity generator said its operational boost at Seven Forks has been remarkable since Sunday, with the power stations recording a peak output of more than 471 megawatts (MW).

This, KenGen said, will go a long way in stabilising grid-scale electricity costs.

High output from cheaper hydro plants usually reduces the amount of costly thermal electricity consumed by Kenyans. 

The recent rains and higher hydro output in the recent months has however not reflected in power bills that have been on the rise, with among the key drivers being the fuel cost charge (FCC).

FCC is a cost passed to consumers to compensate the thermal producers for the cost of buying fuel they use. Power prices have risen to a high of Sh36.81 per unit for households in January this year from Sh33 a unit in December 2023 and Sh26.4 in January last year.

This has meant that households consuming 50 units of electricity have seen their power bills go up 55 per cent over last year, paying Sh1,579 in January this year from Sh1,017 in January last year.

Power consumers who use 100 units and below per month are considered low income and are usually subsidised, paying a lower rate of Sh31.97 per unit against the Sh36.81 per unit that those consuming over 100 units a month pay. 

Households consuming 200 units per month paid Sh7,447 last month, 41 per cent higher than Sh5,278 they paid in January last year, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Accountants oppose new tax on bread, motor vehicles in Finance Bill 2024
Premium Black market to thrive as Ruto tax plan suffers blow
Real Estate
Premium Why there is a boon in real estate amid tough economic conditions
UN agency, firm to host credit rating forum in Nairobi