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Committee to audit electricity demand, Senate team told

 Chairman of Senate Committee on Energy and Petroleum Gideon Moi (left) talks with Principal Secretary of Energy and Petroleum Joseph Njoroge and Kenya Power CEO Ben Chumo Wednesday. [PHOTO: MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: The Ministry of Energy says a committee has been set up to audit the current demands for power supply following the reduction of connectivity cost from Sh30,000 to Sh15,000.

Wednesday, Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge and Kenya Power Managing Director Ben Chumo told the Senate Committee on Energy chaired by Senator Gideon Moi (Baringo) that the evaluation was necessary to ensure uptake of power being developed under the 500MW+programme – Jubilee flagship project.

The two leaders argued that to support business ventures in the country, there should be guaranteed quality power supply both for industrial and domestic users.

Mr Njoroge and Mr Chumo maintained that excess power production would be costly as presently the demand stands at 700MW in the next one year.

"The ministry has constituted the committee that is working closely with other ministries and the private sector to stimulate new demand as well as audit the current demand," Njoroge told the committee.

"The new demand and the demand from the organic growth of existing consumers will add up to inform the new total demand because of the reduced fees. This will enable citizens enjoy power," he added.

Njoroge said between July 1 and December 31 last year, 214,733 electricity consumers were connected to grid.

"During 2013/2014 financial year, 443,733 consumers were connected and 289,619 for the financial year 2012/2013. In ensuring the laptop programme also kicks off, the ministry is in the process of electrifying all public primary schools by the end of the 2014/2015 financial year. As the last leg of connectivity, those residing next to schools will benefit," said Njoroge.

He continued: "Already a total of 1,706 schools were connected to the grid between July 1 and December 2014 and over 5,000 during the 2013/2014 financial year in a programme to support the laptop project."

Gideon, Deputy Majority Leader Charles Keter (Kericho) and Dan Mwazo (Taita Taveta) wondered whether the Government would sustain the project, taking into account the increased demand for connectivity.

Gideon demanded to know if the ministry had elaborate plans to connect areas out of the grid like North Eastern region.

Njoroge and Chumo addressed the issue of regular power outrages, especially during heavy downpour in parts of the country, announcing that plans were on course to enhance transmission infrastructure and modernised distribution infrastructure.

"So far, over 4,900km of various transmission lines are under implementation. In 2014, a total of 369.5km new transmission lines were developed with 435km completed in 2013/2014, 2,300 are under construction while 1,867km are being developed," said Njoroge

Chumo said plans were under way to ensure flexibility in distribution network to enable transfer of power to other lines during blackouts or maintenance.

He said there are 98 projects under way, 33 will end in August this year and another 33 next June.

Chumo revealed that Kenya Power was in the process of investing in underground power infrastructure to address power blackout, as the current overhead lines were affected by falling trees and branches.

Gideon also summoned acting Energy CS Henry Rotich and officials of Kenya Electricity Transmission Company to appear before the committee to explain failure to put yellow marks on transmission lines that are posing danger to aircraft.

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