Drought threatens to raise power prices

Kenyans may soon face a rise in power prices if the persistent drought in the country continues. Energy Cabinet Secretary, Davis Chirchir, revealed that seven major dams in the country are showing alarmingly low water levels, which may force the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) to shut down the Masinga Dam, causing a cut in power production.

“As we are all aware, for the last 5 years we have had a serious failure in the rains and you will appreciate when you see the water levels that we have a challenge. So we are here today to appreciate the management of the hydrology and what we have to do to make sure the water levels are able to support us until the period we will experience longer rains,” Chirchir said during a visit to Kamburu Dam in Embu County after viewing the Masinga Dam in Machakos County.

Masinga Dam, which produces 40 megawatts of power, serves as a reservoir for the other four dams, namely Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma, and Kiambeere. Chirchir highlighted that if the catchment areas around Mount Kenya, which feed the River Tana, do not receive rainfall by March 10, then Kengen will have to scale down power production.

As a result, Kengen will have to rely on more expensive sources of energy such as geothermal and diesel to fill the power gap, which will automatically push power prices higher. “The use of geothermal and diesel as alternative sources of energy will increase the cost of power production, which will be reflected in the prices consumers will pay,” Chirchir warned.

The ongoing drought has caused widespread concern in Kenya, with several regions already declared disaster zones. The situation has been exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon, which has resulted in reduced rainfall across the country.

“The situation is critical and we are closely monitoring the situation. We urge the public to use water and power sparingly to ensure that the available resources are sustained for as long as possible,” Chirchir added.

The government is taking measures to mitigate the impact of the drought, including the construction of more dams and the expansion of geothermal and solar power production. However, the country’s reliance on hydroelectric power has made it vulnerable to the effects of drought, and the potential rise in power prices serves as a reminder of the importance of investing in alternative sources of energy.

This is as it emerges that the proposed average 40% increase in electricity bills could result in a 78% increase in the cost of electricity if approved by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), expected to take effect on April 1.

In addition to the proposed tariffs, households will also be subject to other costs, including Fuel Energy Cost, Foreign Exchange Rate Fluctuation Adjustment, Water Levy, Value Added Tax, Rural Electrification Program Levy, and more.

In the proposal, Kenya Power has reduced the zero to 100KWh hour bracket to zero to 30KWh and has increased the group’s rate per unit from KES 10 to KES 14. This means that households consuming 50 units per month, the lowest figure used by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, will now spend KES 700 on power, up from KES 500.

Small commercial entities and large consumers, such as factories, will also see an increase in rates per unit, with additional charges and levies pushing costs further.



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