Kenya Power is boosting efforts to secure a redundant power network around the east African city of Nairobi.
The utility has implemented a $128 million underground cabling project, through a twenty year concessional loan from the Exim Bank of China.
The utility is anticipating this move to reinforce the City Centre’s bulk power supply system by providing an alternative supply to the existing substations.
With this in mind, Kenya Power’s managing director, Ben Chumo, said during his address on Tuesday that “one of the key enablers of economic development agenda of our country is supply of quality, reliable and affordable electricity to all Kenyans.
“Expansion of power infrastructure is therefore critical if the economic development vision is to be achieved.”
Kenya Power to implement grid expansion
Chumo highlighted that the power company has prepared a detailed grid expansion plan that is focused on putting in place infrastructure that will support electricity supply at the least cost to the citizenry.
He added that the plan is mainly focused on capital investment in network expansion both in extension of power lines, building of new substations and refurbishment of existing ones.
“The project entails installation of underground cables around the City to eliminate interruptions that often result from interference with the overhead cables. This is envisaged to improve supply quality to our customers around Nairobi,” Chumo said.
The utility said in a statement that an estimated 30.71 kilometres of 66kV transmission lines in underground cables connected to the new substation that will be set up at the City Centre will be installed.
This will provide a link between the new substation and six other existing substations around the City to expand the distribution network and reduce system losses. In addition to the City Centre substations, the project will also involve construction of two other substations.
“The underground cabling technology is more aesthetic compared to overhead lines and less expensive in terms of land acquisition challenges and wayleaves requirement,” Chumo said.
With a customer base currently sitting at 5 million, the electricity access rate currently stands at 64%, having increased from 27% in 2013, the MD noted.
The cabling project is expected to enhance flexibility in the network and enable it to adequately serve both existing and new customers that will be connected through ongoing electrification programmes, the utility explained.
According to Chumo, about 30.7 kilometres of transmission lines in underground cables will be installed connecting to the new 220/66kV City Centre substation. He added that the expected completion date is July 31, 2017.
“The works will also involve connection of new City Centre substation to the existing substations through underground cables and extension of the existing 66kV substations.
“The project will improve power quality in Nairobi City Centre and environs by providing alternative supply to the existing substations and refurbishment of Cathedral substation to a modern gas insulated substation.”
He added: “It will improve system flexibility leading to reduced downtime and scale down system losses riding on extension of the transmission line into the city.”