Kenyan manufacturers say frequent electricity outages and power surges are keeping their energy bills high, even with the increased use of lesser expensive geothermal power in the national grid.
The manufacturers say that even though the power tariff has dropped from the previous 20 US cents to the current 14 US cents per Kilowatt hour, the use of diesel generators during outages as well as losses incurred when production is interrupted or machines break down is still pushing up their overall electricity bills.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said at a meeting with Kenya Power officials yesterday the Coast and Western regions are the worst affected.
“For a manufacturer, any outage is bad for business because the modern machines are sensitive to interruptions and in many cases, a stop means products already in the process have to be discarded with possibilities of machine damage. So at the end of the day, we calculate all that plus the diesel generator costs and pass it down to the consumers. We understand the challenges of evacuation that exists currently and we hope they are addressed soon to enable us enjoy the real tariff reductions and pass it down to the consumers as well,” said Ms Wakiaga.
The KAM and Kenya Power meeting was intended to address the needs of the large power consumers.
The Kenya Power acting Managing Director Ken Tarus said the electricity distributor was engaging in a raft of reforms to ensure that manufacturers have a better quality supply.
Supply interruption for the manufacturers has significant revenue implications for Kenya Power since they are their biggest customers.
The utility has set aside Sh2.7 billion to for system automation, which will see manufacturers automatically switched to alternative lines whenever there is a black out.
“We are investing heavily to ensure that manufacturers have reliable and quality supply since they make up to 60 per cent of our revenue sources. That means when they don’t have power then we also lose revenues. Already 164 out of the 200 alternative lines have been done and we are installing automatic meter readers to improve efficiency in billing...,” said Dr Tarus.