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Economy

No reprieve for consumers as ERC keeps high power tariffs

County workers fix street lights in Eldoret town. photo | jared nyataya
County workers fix street lights in Eldoret town. photo | jared nyataya 

Power bills will remain unchanged in February after hitting an all-time high last month due to an increase in the intake of expensive diesel-generated electricity to compensate for hydropower dips.

Homes that consume 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, mostly middle class, will pay Sh4,068. This payoff is equivalent to Sh20.34 per unit of electricity consumed in February.

Low-income earners who consume 50 units monthly will similarly continue paying Sh682, according to data from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

This bottom consumers (0-50 units) enjoy government’s subsidised tariff with their monthly bill translating to a cost of Sh13.65 per unit of electricity, nearly Sh7 lower per unit of what is paid by consumers outside the 0-50 units band.

Homes and businesses can self-check their billing calculations on https://stima.regulusweb.com/.

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The ERC data shows that January recorded the highest monthly power consumption, having crossed the 900 million units mark for the first time, to stand at an intake of 918.9 million units. This indicates rising activity in the economy.

The February static power bills came after the regulator raised the fuel levy to a 40-month high of Sh4.51 per kWh from Sh4.30 in January but reduced the forex levy by a similar margin. The forex levy is down by Sh0.21 per unit, offsetting the fuel charge’s rise of Sh0.21, which has left February power bills in a neutral position.

The ERC reviews the two main pass-through costs in consumer power bills every month.

The fuel surcharge is linked to the amount of power produced by diesel generators and injected into the national grid while forex charge compensates for foreign currency costs, including loans that power producers have in their books.

Electricity distributor Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC is fighting court charges of inflating its monthly billings.

The annual report of the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm showed it was backdating bills worth Sh8.1 billion to recover costs incurred on diesel generators last year, which were not fully billed to homes and businesses between last February and August.

This action was taken to keep a lid on rising power prices as drought deeply cut hydropower production. The bill is part of the Sh10.1 billion identified as unrecovered power fuel costs in Kenya Power’s annual statement for the year ended June 2017.

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