Kenya Power has scaled up maintenance of its high and medium-voltage transmission lines without switching off customers in a shift projected to reduce revenue loss by up to Sh1 billion annually.
The power utility on Wednesday opened a Sh340 million live line laboratory where it will test equipment including trucks, insulating blankets, link sticks and a line hose tester.
Kenya Power acting managing director Geoffrey Muli said the laboratory is key to cutting the company’s revenue losses from planned and unscheduled outages and diversify its income through selling services to neighbouring countries.
Live line maintenance allows a power utility to undertake repairs and other works without switching off customers, enhancing the reliability of electricity supply.
The State-owned firm has for years been forced to switch off customers for more than 10 hours a day to maintain its transmission lines, highlighting the critical role of the live line maintenance technology.
“The laboratory will enable the company to test and certify live line work tools and equipment and realize savings in terms of payment for these services,” Mr Muli said on Wednesday.
The test centre is part of a Sh2 billion funding from the World Bank with the rest of the money used to buy insulated trucks, live line tools and train the staff across its eight regions.
Kenya Power used to spend Sh36 million every year to test its live line equipment, highlighting the savings impact of the laboratory.
“The 35 live lines spread across the country are able to work on at least two locations in a week that would have required an outage resulting in a minimum saving on revenue loss of Sh17.5 million a week and Sh1 billion annually,” Mr Muli said on Wednesday.
The firm currently has 216 staff dedicated to the live line team doing an estimated 2,800 hours of live power lines maintenance every month.
Kenya Power says that the use of live-line technology is key to increasing the reliability of its power supply and ultimately raise profitability by reducing revenue losses.
The company’s net income increased 27.6 times to Sh3.8 billion in the half-year ended December from Sh138 million a year earlier. This came as sales jumped 21 percent to Sh83.5 billion.
Economic recovery and growth in customers helped raise electricity unit sales 8.7 percent to 4,562 Gigawatt hours (GWh).