advertisement

Economy

Water levels in hydro dams at 3-year high

Energy Secretary Charles Keter at a media briefing in Nairobi May 15, 2018 on the impact of rising water levels in hydro dams.  At right is Devolution Secretary Eugene Wamalwa. PHOTO | francis nderitu | NMG
Energy Secretary Charles Keter at a media briefing in Nairobi May 15, 2018 on the impact of rising water levels in hydro dams. At right is Devolution Secretary Eugene Wamalwa. PHOTO | francis nderitu | NMG 

Power bills look set to fall further in coming months on increased generation of cheaper hydro power after water levels in dams rose to the highest level since 2015.

Energy secretary Charles Keter Tuesday said hydro-electric dams along Tana River Basin have risen to a three-year high following months of heavy rains, signalling a relief to homes and business struggling with record electricity prices.

This has helped double the share of hydro on the national grid to 40 per cent, a rise that is expected to cut the fuel levy in power bills further after falling to Sh4.95 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in May from April’s Sh5.35 on reduced use of expensive diesel generators.

“We are covered at least until December,” Mr Keter said, ruling out a rise in electricity costs for the remainder of the year.

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.

The fuel surcharge has steadily increased from Sh2.31 kWh in October 2016, a rise that has made electricity prices go up the most among basic home commodities.

Power bills for homes that consume 200-kilowatt hours (kWh) per month rose from  Sh3,575 in January last year to Sh4,322 in April —one of the fastest monthly growths among basic household items.

The low-income earners (consuming 50 units of electricity a month) paid Sh745 in April, up from Sh559 in January last year.

Mr Keter said hydro and geothermal power now account for about 90 per cent of the power being fed into the grid, from 69.34 per cent in February.

The rising share of hydro in the national power grid is replacing the expensive diesel-dependent thermal electricity generators.

The minister spoke after he issued a flooding alert for residents in the riparian land along Tana River, which stretches from Garissa, down to the Coast.

Water levels at Masinga, the country’s largest hydro-electric dam by capacity, on Tuesday rose to 1055.53 metres, leaving only 0.97 metres that could overflow by Friday.

Kamburu, Gitaru and Kindaruma have also registered high water levels, Mr Keter added, while Kiambere overflew between April 25 and 29.

Power bills steadily rose for six months in a row to April.

advertisement