Cheap night power tariff fires demand from factories

ERC head Pavel Oimeke. file PHOTO | NMG
ERC head Pavel Oimeke. file PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s introduction of discounted night-time electricity tariffs in December for manufacturers has fired up demand, raising maximum power consumption in the economy by 2.5 per cent.

Data from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) indicates that the peak demand – maximum power ever consumed – rose to 1,770 megawatts (MW) in January from 1,727 megawatts before the introduction of the special night rates on December 1.

“The growth is mainly attributed to the incentive of time of use tariffs introduced on December 1, 2017,” ERC director-general Pavel Oimeke said.

The peak demand of 1,770MW against the country’s total installed capacity of 2,336MW, leaves the country with a reserve margin of about 566MW, according to the ERC data.

The reserve power often takes care of emergency situations like when several plants are taken off the national grid during maintenance or unforeseen breakdowns.

In the night-time tariffs, large businesses and manufacturers enjoy half market rates from 10pm to 6am when electricity consumption is low.

Kenya consumes less than half the peak power demand (currently 1,770MW) between midnight and 5am.

The peak time stretches from 9am and climaxes at between 6pm and 9pm when Kenyans return home from work switching on house lighting, cooking appliances and TVs.