Opinion & Analysis

EDITORIAL: Ministry of Energy officials should be more transparent

The revelation that the Ministry of Energy rejected a project that would have seen a Swedish firm build a 600-megawatt offshore wind power plant raises more queries than answers. 

It does not easily add up how the government could be pursuing a nuclear power project whose budget it is estimated could rise up to Sh2 trillion for 4,000 megawatts, and at the same time reject the proposed Malindi wind farm.
It could as well be that Ministry of Energy officials who rejected the project had the best interests of the country at heart.
As has been demonstrated by recent geothermal power plants, the economy does not have capacity to absorb huge power injections at a go.

Whereas electricity generation has now far exceeded even peak power demand; old, low capacity and/or non-existent transmission lines make it difficult to tap most of the new geothermal power that has been generated over the past two years.

The infrastructure deficiency has left Kenyans still paying high power bills to diesel-powered generators as construction of high-voltage transmission lines had dragged for years.

Creaking transmission lines have also resulted in constant power outages, sometimes even nationwide.

It is therefore correct, on the face of it, to argue that injecting 600MW of power at a go could inflate consumers’ power bills without necessarily helping to improve the quality of electricity supply in the country.

What the Ministry officials however need to tell Kenyans is why they are, on the flipside, so enthusiastic about the 1,000MW nuclear power project.

The nuclear agency has to date gobbled up hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ cash, yet it appears to be more of a futuristic rather than a practical project.

Could there be information that the Ministry of Energy officials have regarding the nuclear project that the general public is not aware of?

While it is true that there is justifiable need for a mix of energy sources, it would appear that more energy should have been channeled toward realising the safer, cheaper and on the face of it more feasible offshore wind farm.

There is need for Ministry officials to be fully transparent on the choices and decisions that they make on behalf of the Kenyan people.

The bureaucrats need to tell taxpayers why, for example, it did not make sense to implement the wind power project in phases.

The key word here is transparency in exercise of the powers that government officials exercise on behalf of the Kenyan people.