The energy sector regulator has differed strongly with the country’s sole electricity distributor over the country’s energy needs.
For some reason, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Kenya Power cannot agree on the amount of electricity this country requires to support its growth projection.
Kenya Power, which interfaces directly with the consumers, says the amount of electricity being generated at the moment is adequate for the economy.
The ERC, on the other hand wants to continue licensing new producers until the country achieves its mid-term target of 5,000 megawatts.
The two entities – which are staffed with energy experts – have now turned to State House for the way forward.
We wish to take an early opportunity to advise that energy production is too important a task to be left to guesswork. Our present and future energy needs must be measured by a meticulous feasibility study rather than being regarded as part of a political calculation.
Lest we forget, both the under-production and over-production of energy are burdensome on the part of the consumer. Consumers face high bills when future energy shortfall calls for use of diesel-fired generators the same way taxpayers stand to pay for the idle capacity in case of overproduction.
Available data indicates that the country’s installed capacity increased to 2,339.9MW in 2017, up from 2,327MW the previous year.
With a peak demand of 1,802 MW, Kenya’s energy supply can safely be described as “stable” since whatever is not consumed at the moment is being reserved for emergency situations.
This country needs a clear power generation plan to ensure this demand-supply balance is always maintained as new consumers come on board. Being a long term and capital intensive venture, investors require clarity to remove the cloud of uncertainty that has been building over recent months.
A political decision made by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration way back in 2013 that set a plan to install an additional 5,000 MW to the national grid by 2017 need not blur our vision and override planning.