13 July 2010 – According to a policy framework, the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) plans to spend over US$60m in setting up hydro power plants along rivers in tea growing zones.

The report titled, Road-map to the development of agency related ventures by KTDA and factory companies, says it plans to use Sh5.350 billion in the development of hydro electric power in a total of 16 sites. 

It says the initiative was started with the objective of encouraging and promoting the smallholder tea sector to develop small hydro-power projects with the aim of reducing operating costs, increasing power supply reliability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and diversifying sources of revenue.  

Payback periods of the projects vary with the shortest being 2.1 years with a potential of producing 2.015 megawatts while the longest would be a seven year period.  

The 16 sites have a potential of producing 28.33 megawatts when completed.  

Areas indicated include South Mara, Mutonga, Iraru, Thuci, Nyamindi, Kiringa, Maragwa, Chania, Kipsonoi, Itare (Chemosit), Kipsonoi, Gucha (Rianyakwana), Gura and Mathioya.  

The projects will be under the nearby factory or under joint venture of two or more factories from the region.  

The Ministry of Energy is conducting a feasibility study on a further 14 sites around the country.  

Among those, the report says, KTDA was now giving priority to development of Chemosit and Rianyakwana hydro projects.  

Imenti project was the first of its kind among the KTDA managed factories and a power purchase agreement with Kenya Power and Lighting Company has been signed.

The agency with technical support from the Ministry of Energy has identified 14 sites with hydro electric power generation potential.

The report which was used to brief directors from zone six meeting at Litein factory two weeks ago says that two of the potential sites were identified with the assistance of Greening the Tea Industry in East Africa project.  

A source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the figures involved and the issue of disgruntled farmers who want higher pay for green leaf delivered, said KTDA had completed developing a policy framework to actualise development of the sites.  

The agency has incorporated KTDA Power Company Ltd (KTPC) as an investment firm to steer the hydro-power initiatives during the implementation phase and also to manage the generating stations once commissioned.  

KTDA has come up with regional power companies which shall be registered to develop suitable hydro generation sites within their zones.