Energy CS Charles Keter has assured Kenyans that they will not pay more for electricity, contradicting a report by Kenya Power last week that power bills would be backdated to recover a Sh8.1 billion deficit.
Keter also said that the inconsistent power bills experienced by customers recently were as a result of an imperfect billing system that estimated metre readings instead of taking actual readings.
“What we are facing is a billing fluctuation following an upgrade in billing systems by KP, which is being resolved on a case by case basis. Kenya Power has called on any customer who has a complaint to visit their offices for assessment and review of their accounts for swift resolution,” he said.
The CS further said that no bills have been backdated and tariffs have not changed, pointing out that it would take a lengthy process by the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) to introduce new power tariffs.
This is in contradiction to a statement put out by Kenya Power last week that it would backdate its customers’ bills to fund a deficit occasioned by a high fuel cost charge in 2017, as a result of using thermal generators to make up for loss of hydropower due to prolonged drought.
The announcement by Kenya Power raised uproar, with many of its consumers complaining that they were being forced to pay extortionate amounts in power bills.
Users on social media have rallied behind a hashtag #SwitchoffKPLC to protest inflated power bills, with some saying that they are currently paying more than double what they were billed in the previous months.
“I was billed Sh22,000 in December last year, up from an average of Sh6,000-7,000 a month. This is unacceptable and that is why I have added my voice to the protest. We are happy to pay what we owe but KPLC cannot bill us incorrectly and expect us to do nothing,” said an outraged Jerotich Seii, one of the active accounts behind the hashtag.
Former Law Society of Kenya boss Apollo Mboya has said that he is organizing a class action suit against KP, ERC and the ministry of energy over incorrect billing.
“What the minister has said is a confirmation of what we have long suspected- that they have been billing us based on guesswork and not correct metre readings. We are still collecting data and so far have over 400 respondents on record who have supplied us with their previous and current power bills showing large increases in the past few months. We plan to file the suit by the end of this week,” he said.
Other than over billing, the suit will also address power interruptions, malfunctioning equipment and a rise in the price of electricity tokens for prepaid customers.
Keter, however, maintained that only 2.4 million KPLC customers under the old postpaid system have been affected by the inaccurate bills, and promised to have the issue sorted out once the new system is in place by the end of this month.
“The new system also allows a consumer to self-read their metre and upload on an app on their phone to enhance billing accuracy,” he said.
He also announced that the ERC would standardize the prepaid metre system to ensure that customers get the same number of tokens regardless of how many they buy at a go, as the old system which staggers tariffs based on quantity has been confusing to many.
There are 3.9 million prepaid metre users currently. The company has 6.4 million customers in total.