“One of our greatest challenges is development of adequate, reliable and inexpensive supply. This is expected to be achieved in the short medium term to pump 5000 MW to the existing power generated in the country.”
Exclusive interview with Eng. Joel Kiilu Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of KETRACO (Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Ltd). Eng Kiilu is a featured panelist during the opening session of the upcoming East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC) in September in Nairobi. KETRACO is also an official host utility for the event.
Let’s start with some highlights in the history of KETRACO that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of being able to build a team (KETRACO) that works together and cares for each other. The team has grown from 3 to about 300 staff members with least turn over.
What do you regard as the most important projects for the company right now?
All of our 40 or so projects are important to us. However in terms of economic importance, I prioritize them as follows:
a) 400kV Mombasa Nairobi Transmission Line
b) 500kV Ethiopia-Kenya Transmission Line
c) 400kV Loiyangalani- Suswa Transmission Line
d) 400kV Olkaria- Lessos- Tororo Transmission Line
e) 400kV Suswa- Isinya Transmission Line
How do you envisage integrating IPPs into the grid?
It is KETRACO’s mandate to construct high voltage transmission lines. For example, we are putting up lines to evacuate 300MW wind power from Lake Turkana, Lamu- Kitui- Nairobi East and the Menengai- Soilo Transmission Line projects.
In other cases where there could be a delay in financing, KETRACO allows the IPPs to construct evacuation lines as part of the project but we take operation of the projects. Examples of these include Kinangop power, Kipeto power and Agil power.
Delivering a reliable and increased power supply is part of the country’s Vision 2030, what do you see as the main challenges to this goal?
One of our greatest challenges is development of adequate, reliable and inexpensive supply. This is expected to be achieved in the short medium term to pump 5000 MW to the existing power generated in the country.
This challenge will be overcome by building enough infrastructure for generation, transmission and distribution to the grid.
This challenge will also be overcome by developing requisite demand to avail this energy to drive down the cost.
Other challenges include inadequate financing within the time frame for evacuation infrastructure, the period of time set to establish 5000+MW projects and wayleave acquisition.
Will the grid be able to accommodate the increased power supply?
The existing grid will not be able to accommodate the increased power supply output but we have carried out feasibility studies and have come up with the requirements in terms of increased transmission lines to evacuate power, lines to strengthen the system, for reliability, substations and distribution systems.
How important is regional cooperation in this process?
Corporation is necessary so as to facilitate regional grid integration. This will enable the region to share/ tap the competitively generated energy. It will most likely drive down the cost of electricity in the region and the size of the grid will resort to a reliable system which will also be in a position to encourage connection with green energy ie wind, solar.
Why did you decide to partner with EAPIC?
EAPIC is a very important player in the region in the power industry.
The convention brings all players together so as to understand what is happening in the region and this becomes a major input in power planning by the regional states.
EAPIC also plays a major role in providing a forum for the energy players to learn from each other.