A Kenya power technician fixes high voltage electricity line along Kenyatta Avenue. PHOTO | FILEA Kenya power technician fixes high voltage electricity line along Kenyatta Avenue. PHOTO | FILE
By NEVILLE OTUKI

 

Power bills could hit a 26-month high in March if the prolonged dry weather persists, forcing electricity distributor Kenya Power to increase its use of expensive diesel-generated power.

Energy secretary Charles Keter on Friday said that the decreasing water levels in dams has cut hydropower generation, forcing the country to turn to increased use of thermal power.

He said the fuel levy, which is paid to diesel power generators, will hit Sh3.52 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in March from Sh2.85 last month should the dry weather persist – representing the highest level since October 2014.

“The adverse weather condition has really affected our water levels and capacity to generate cheaper hydropower,” Mr Keter said during a media tour of the Masinga Dam – Kenya’s main water reservoir.

NO POWER RATIONING

He, however, ruled out any power rationing as was the case in 1999-2001 when severe drought cut hydropower generation, resulting in painful bouts of load shedding across the country.

Because thermal power is expensive, it is only injected to the grid when cheaper hydropower and geothermal energy are no longer inadequate.

Costly power is often an inflation driver in the economy given the pivotal role that electricity plays in the manufacture of goods and its impact on household budgets.

The drought has affected the Seven Forks hydro stations on Tana River – Kenya’s main supplier of hydropower.

The Seven Forks comprise Gitaru (225 MW), which is Kenya’s largest hydropower station, Kiambere (168 MW), Kamburu (94 MW), Kindaruma (72 MW) and Masinga power station (40 MW).

Power generation at the stations has almost been halved to 6.5 million kWh daily, down from between 12 million units when the dams are full, according to power producer KenGen – the operator of the Seven Forks.