Editorials

Smart electricity meters long overdue for utility

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Safaricom Limited's headquarters, Nairobi. PHOTO FILE | NMG

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Summary

  • Safaricom estimates that its smart electricity meters will help to track power use, outages and transformer loads, giving Kenya Power additional Sh71 billion revenues in five years.
  • Of this collection, the power distribution monopoly will earn a net of Sh17.9 billion when the technology cuts system losses to eight percent from the current 23.93 percent.

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM estimates that its smart electricity meters will help to track power use, outages and transformer loads, giving Kenya Power additional Sh71 billion revenues in five years.

Of this collection, the power distribution monopoly will earn a net of Sh17.9 billion when the technology cuts system losses to eight percent from the current 23.93 percent.

From the onset, this is an idea whose time has come, considering that the power distributor has been grappling with electricity theft and weak transmission that have seen it drop from a top earner to a loss-making utility.

For the first time in 17 years, it made a loss of close to Sh1 billion last year.

Some of Kenya Power’s large consumers have resorted to own production and installing solar kits, further hurting the once giant utility.

Safaricom says it has identified four manufacturers of the more than 300,000 meters that will serve more than 1,200 Kenya Power distribution feeders, 73,000 transformers, and 256,000 consumers that use an average 200 kilowatts monthly.

Kenya Power’s system losses have been rising from 17.51 percent in 2015 to the current 23.93 percent as it has upped connections helped by the subsidies like the Last Mile programme.

For a huge service provider like Kenya Power, meter tampering and the system losses were sure to push it into bigger commercial problems when power thieves run roughshod, exploiting technologies that are not water-tight.

Apart from the prospects of enhanced revenues, the use of smart meters is expected to keep power affordable, which is one of the demands manufacturers have been making on the government to enable them become competitive across the world.

And when manufacturers can produce competitively, the economy will benefit through increased jobs, better remuneration and improved dividends to the shareholders.

Because this development is coming at a time Kenya Power is grappling with procurement troubles that have seen workers call for the ousting of the board, this smart metering deal must be seen to be above board, including negotiating a revenue share that will make sense to the ownership.