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Economy

Sh200bn Lamu coal plant eyes Nema hurdle

Promoters of Kenya’s first coal-fired power plant have sought the approval of the environment watchdog to construct the Sh200 billion plant in the latest attempt to remove hurdles that have delayed the mega-electricity project.

Amu Power Company — the consortium that won the tender to construct the plant— wants the nod of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to build East Africa’s first coal plant.

The 1,050-megawatt plant in the coastal town of Lamu is equivalent to 45 per cent of Kenya’s current installed power capacity of 2,333 megawatts.

Construction of the plant was set to start last September and end in June 2017 but the consortium suffered delays in preparing an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to be submitted to Nema for approval.

Land acquisition delays also threw the mega-project into uncertainty.

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The company has now submitted the EIA, which details project’s site location, its likely impacts on the environment and remedial measures alongside the project’s decommissioning.

“Nema invites members of the public to submit oral or written comments within 30 days from the date of publication of this notice to the director general, Nema, to assist the authority in the decision-making process for this project,” Nema says in a notice.

The Amu consortium brings together firms such as Gulf Energy, Centum Investment and Power Construction Corporation of China — in charge of actual construction.

The electricity from the coal plant will be priced in the same range as geothermal energy at 7.52 US cents (Sh7.6) per unit — almost a third of what diesel-fired plants charge. The plant will sit on 869 acres of public land.

The National Land Commission last November started the takeover of the land from squatters and private investors, clearing a major hurdle that had delayed construction.

The coal project has been spared the burden of paying Sh2 million to Nema as EIA fees after Treasury secretary Henry Rotich scrapped the levy on June 8 in his budget speech aimed at spurring investments.

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