Coast residents set for lower power bills with cheap geothermal power

A Kenya Power worker inspects a power line. FILE PHOTO | NMG
A Kenya Power worker inspects a power line. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya has switched on a high-voltage power line to transport cheap geothermal electricity from Naivasha stations to the Coast, which is expected to cut back on expensive diesel-fired power that homes and businesses in the region have been relying on.

A lack of a transmission line had forced coastal towns to depend on thermal generators for electricity, which comes with associated fuel costs paid for by all consumers in Kenya.

This is despite Kenya having surplus cheaper geothermal energy that could not be transported to the region.

“The line will improve the quality and reliability of power supply to the Coast region by delivering excess geothermal power to this area. In addition, it will also boost supply in Athi River, Kitengela and Makueni to adequately serve manufacturers and other large establishments,” electricity distributor Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC said in a statement.

The 400 kilovolt (kV) line has been initially charged at a fraction of its capacity (220kV) to evacuate geothermal power from Olkaria stations in Naivasha.

It runs from Suswa substation, the main interchange for power coming from different source, through Isinya to Rabai in Coast.

The multi-billion shilling line, which has faced delays due to wayleaves acquisition, will transport up to 150 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power, or half the demand in Coast (300 MW).

This is expected to cut by half the region’s use of thermal power and result in reduced fuel charge in power bills.

The fuel levy, which is linked to the amount of power produced by diesel generators and injected into the national grid, stood at Sh2.85 per kWh last month.

It is adjusted every month by the energy regulator.

The line has been constructed and is being managed by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco), the agency in charge of high voltage lines of above 132kV.