Expensive electricity: MPs debate high costs, want charges cut down

Members of Parliament were Wednesday, April 12 engaged in a heated debate on lowering the cost of electricity in the country.

The motion before Parliament was moved by Laikipia County Woman Representative Jane Kagiri, in which she pointed out that Kenya Power has entered into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with both KenGen and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which makes it [Kenya Power] procure electricity from them at unregulated rates.

“There is a need to regulate all IPPs in the country and publicize their locations, stakeholders, directors, management, and their addresses. The agreements the IPPs have entered into with Kenya Power should be made public to enable proper scrutiny” Kagiri said.

Kagiri further called upon the Departmental Committee on Energy to undertake an inquiry into the operations of Kenya Power in relation to; agreements entered into with IPPs,  factors affecting the cost of electricity including over-reliance on IPPs against available renewable and other energy sources, and, measures to be taken to reduce the cost of electricity, and submit a report. 

West Mugirango MP Steven Mogaka suggested that the Government bring in small-scale power production for every household to beat the monopoly of Kenya power in a bid to lower the cost of electricity.

“Kenya Power being a monopoly prefers purchasing expensive energy at the expense of the cheaper clean green energy generated by geothermal, wind, and nuclear energy. We can’t be relying on hydro only but we should lay emphasis on solar energy,” Mogaka said.

Mogaka said that there is a need to evaluate the production chain to ensure that there are no leakages transferred to the power costs.

On his part, Kilifi North MP Owen Baya argued that the government should reduce the cost of buying power from independent suppliers since it affects consumers.

“Power purchase agreements that the government has entered into with independent power producers are quite unfair,” Baya said.

He added that IPPs that make a lot of money through supplying power to KPLC as consumers bear the cost of poor management of the power company.

Malindi MP Amina Mnyanzi also expressed the plight of business owners terming the electricity charges as incomprehensible to citizens.

Netizens have also in recent weeks raised concern over high electricity prices, especially over the huge pass-through costs.

Kenya Power has since stopped sending the detailed breakdown of electricity tokens to customers. Instead, the utility now shows customers the amount spent, units received, token amount, and the lump sum of all the pass-through costs under “other charges”.

“The change has been affected after numerous engagements with the public including a recent survey where our customers said they wanted a briefer statement of their electricity bills. Going forward we will no longer be including all the cost elements in the SMS. Customers can get additional details about their bills via *977#,” said Kenya Power on March 14.