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Kenya Power returns token details amid probe

KPLC

A Kenya Power employee inspects a meter box at an apartment in Tassia Estate, Nairobi. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

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Summary

  • The electricity distributor has reverted to its previous billing format that offered households an opportunity to interrogate their payment statements.
  • The energy regulator is investigating Kenya Power for denying pre-paid consumers a breakdown of their electricity bills.
  • Kenya Power was recently on the spot for giving preference to expensive thermal power over cheaper options such as geothermal and hydro, effectively setting up consumers for higher electricity prices.

Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC has reinstated a breakdown of charges in pre-paid electricity tokens amid regulatory probe after the utility stopped providing the complete bills to consumers.

The electricity distributor has reverted to its previous billing format that offered households an opportunity to interrogate their payment statements.

The company did not give an official statement behind the reduced disclosure on the electricity token receipts.

Consumers have since early this month been receiving payment statements via their phones without a breakdown of charges like the monthly variable items like fuel and foreign exchange adjustments expenses lumped together.

This made it difficult for consumers to establish whether the costing on their bills matches the unit prices for various items like tax, regulatory levies and other surcharges with the data published monthly in the Kenya Gazette by Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra)

The energy regulator is investigating Kenya Power for denying pre-paid consumers a breakdown of their electricity bills.

“We have taken note of this matter and are currently probing to establish the reasons behind it. Once we arrive at the conclusion of our investigation, we shall make the findings public and take necessary regulatory actions,” Epra director-general Pavel Oimeke told the Business Daily on Thursday.

Previously, Kenya Power provided details on payment of value-added tax, Epra levy, inflation adjustment, water regulator fees as well as foreign exchange and fuel adjustment surcharges.

Now, these charges have been lumped together and appear as other charges in payment statements sent to the mobile phones of more than six million of consumers hooked to the utility firm’s pre-paid billing systems.

A wobbly shilling and heavy reliance on diesel-powered generators to produce electricity due to low water levels in the country’s hydro-electric dams have been blamed for the rise in fuel surcharge and forex adjustment costs.

A weak shilling means fuel import costs have been rising.

Without details of fuel costs charge, consumers are unable to gauge how the use of expensive thermal electricity on the national grid is affecting electricity prices.

Kenya Power was recently on the spot for giving preference to expensive thermal power over cheaper options such as geothermal and hydro, effectively setting up consumers for higher electricity prices.

September data by Epra revealed that Kenya Power had picked the highest proportion of the expensive thermal power in more than a year while reserving the lowest slot for the cheaper geothermal power.

As a result, consumers paid a higher fuel cost charge — which is influenced by the share of electricity from diesel generators — of Sh2.6 per kilowatt-hour, up from the Sh2.4 since May 2020.

KenGen #ticker:KEGN, which had a reduced output from geothermal, said it had given Kenya Power some 499.7 megawatts, but only 410.3 megawatts was taken up, leaving 89.4 megawatts unused.

The new bills will also not reveal how much consumers will be paying to fund Epra not long after the Energy ministry successfully pushed to have the levy doubled to a ceiling of one per cent and not the Sh0.3 cents per unit purchased.