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Economy

Sh83bn solar, wind power plants yield 5 cents bills cut

solar farm
A solar power plant. Injection of cheaper electricity from Sh83 billion solar and wind power plants has lowered bills for homes and businesses by a measly five cents. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Injection of cheaper electricity from Sh83 billion solar and wind power plants has lowered bills for homes and businesses by a measly five cents.

The government promised cheaper electricity from increased use of the two green sources by reducing the use of costly thermal power and ultimately cutting the fuel cost adjustment levy in bills.

But filings from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) show that the fuel surcharge levy — which is influenced by the share of electricity from diesel generators — has dropped for the first time in January since August.

The fuel levy remained unchanged at Sh2.50 per kilowatt hour (kWh) since August, but dropped to Sh2.45 in January—marking the first time wind and solar power have cut electricity prices.

The Sh70 billion Turkana wind farm, which was switched on in October, is now injecting up to 280 megawatts (MW) into the grid, while the Sh13 billion Garissa solar plant is supplying 48MW since early November.

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Not feel the impact

Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter last month said a breakdown of a geothermal plant has made it difficult for homes and businesses to feel the impact of cheaper wind and solar power.

Electricity from the wind park will cost Sh8.7 per unit (8.5 US cents), which is in a similar price range as geothermal and solar power, or three times cheaper than diesel-generated electricity.

“Wind and solar are cheap but they are both intermittent sources, you see you may have wind giving some 200MW into the grid and an hour later it is down to 40MW so we need to have the geothermal and hydro source for stability,” said Mr Keter.

Data from ERC show that supply of hydro power to the grid dropped from 419 million kWh in July to 339 million in November, hurting chances of lowering use of diesel generators.

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Not feel the impact

Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter last month said a breakdown of a geothermal plant has made it difficult for homes and businesses to feel the impact of cheaper wind and solar power.

Electricity from the wind park will cost Sh8.7 per unit (8.5 US cents), which is in a similar price range as geothermal and solar power, or three times cheaper than diesel-generated electricity.

“Wind and solar are cheap but they are both intermittent sources, you see you may have wind giving some 200MW into the grid and an hour later it is down to 40MW so we need to have the geothermal and hydro source for stability,” said Mr Keter.

Data from ERC show that supply of hydro power to the grid dropped from 419 million kWh in July to 339 million in November, hurting chances of lowering use of diesel generators.