Daily News  :: East Africa

Floods ensure cheaper power for Kenyans

Published: 11-DEC-06

Nairobi - Kenyans would receive nine months uninterrupted hydroelectric power supply at cheaper rates, thanks to the raging floods that filled the dams, state-run Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) engineers said on Saturday.

The East African country has also stepped up its upgrade of hydropower facilities to generate more power in anticipation of soaring demand for electricity, both domestically and regionally, Kengen�s operations manager, Samson Kimani said.

However, Kenyans might be forced to take power cuts in July next year when the biggest power generating machine based at the Kiambere Dam, which generates 75mW of hydropower, closed down for upgrading.

Sources said that a German firm, Voith Siemens, has won a 950mn Kenya shillings ($13mn) tender to supply new turbines to increase the capacity of the power station by 25 mW.

The hydropower stations, which form part of the country's power hub - the Seven Folks Scheme which covers a total of 7�300km - have accumulated enough water to last for nine months. As demand eases, this should soften prices too.

"We have more sustainability. The fuel costs charges on bills will come down," Kimani told a team of journalists who visited the Seven Folks Scheme to asses the impact of flooding on electricity generation.

Due to the flooding which hit the country late November, Masinga Dam, located about 235km northeast of Nairobi, has accumulated 1056 million m3 of water, which was almost an oversupply of water.

Kenya does not expect rains again until May 2007, when the long rains would peak. Hydroelectric power engineers said the country was unlikely to shift to full-scale reliance on hydropower because of existing business ties with suppliers of oil-generated power.

Kenya also had plans to connect with East Africa neighbour, Ethiopia, in a deal that would see it import 400mW from Addis Ababa. Regardless of the need to recoup the investment of building a 1 200km connection line, the imported electricity was expected to be cheaper than locally generated power. -panapress

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