In East Africa, Kenya Power Managing Director, Ben Chumo, has assured power consumers that the recent high electricity bills will reduce in the coming months as the power company reverts to regular sources of energy, Standard Media reported.
Kenya Power: cost of power imports
Chumo attributes the high electricity tariffs to the recent import of expensive thermal power, which was needed to bridge a gap in the country’s power generation, which was reduced due to maintenance.
Stakeholders are concerned that the country is in a position where it could lose its competitive advantage if power takes up 30% to 40% of production costs.
Chumo said: “I think lack of proper communication regarding the matter may have made some people feel that power bills will continue going up. However, let me assure you that power costs will come down as regular sources are used again.”
Geothermal a key in power sustainability
Chumo acknowledged that the country is in need of reliable and sustainable power: “We are currently using geothermal as the base load that is already overtaking hydro power.
He added: “It is true that hydro power is cheaper but geothermal is more reliable as it is not subject to the vagaries of weather.”
Halving power imports
In earlier news, Kenya’s Olkaria 1 geothermal power plant has enabled the country to reduce the amount of imported power by nearly 52% in the first half of this year.
According to data from Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the country imported 27.97 million kWh from Uganda and Ethiopia in the first half of this year, a 51.7% drop from the previous year, which imported 57.91 million kWh, SeeNews reported.
The drop in power imports can be linked to the 280MW geothermal power plant, Olkaria 1, which came online at the end of 2014.
Increasing power generation
Government’s short-term strategy aims to add 5,000MW of power by 2017. It currently has just over 2,000MW installed generation capacity.
Currently, only 32% of the country’s population has access to power, which the government plans to increase to 70% within five years.