26 June 2009 – In Kenya, the Energy ministry and public power producer, KenGen, are expected invite tenders for the supply of emergency electricity to cushion the economy from a looming crisis that industry players say could begin as soon as next month.

The crisis comes as a result of declining water levels on hydro-dams.

The fuel driven emergency power operator will mean that consumers will have to pay more for electricity in the form of high fuel cost charges– a varying item on the bills that is linked to the amount of power on the national grid that is generated from thermal sources.

The extent of the looming shortfall is not known but the Government has said the generators are likely to run until the end of the year, which means that power consumers should expect the surge in electricity cost to last till the end of the year.

It also means that the country will increasingly rely on the expensive thermal power to meet its needs – a development that energy economists warn could increase production costs across all sectors of the economy and stifle growth.

Kenya generates 1,248 megawatts of power, including 150 from temporary emergency sources, against a peak demand of 1,070 megawatts, leaving a reserve margin of only 14 per cent.

Kenya’s energy problems have in recent years been compounded by delays in completion and commissioning of cheaper hydro sources to speed up retirement of the emergency power producers.

Though the country’s dependence on thermal power has been rising since late last year, the steep decline in crude prices that came with the global economic crunch has shielded consumers from the possible surge in bill.