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Keter links major blackout to a fault in power lines

Energy secretary Charles Keter (centre) and principal secretary Joseph Njoroge listen to Godfrey Ticha, a Kenya Power engineer, when the officials toured Juja sub-station in Dandora on January 10, 2017. photo | anthony omuya
Energy secretary Charles Keter (centre) and principal secretary Joseph Njoroge listen to Godfrey Ticha, a Kenya Power engineer, when the officials toured Juja sub-station in Dandora on January 10, 2017. photo | anthony omuya 

Energy secretary Charles Keter has attributed the blackout that hit most parts of the country on Tuesday evening to a fault in the power distribution lines.

Mr Keter said electricity distribution from the Olkaria geothermal station — one of the country’s main power suppliers — to a sub-station in Nairobi was cut off after its conductors blew up, leading to an overload in the system.

The problem was in turn transferred to other parts of the country and to Uganda since the power distribution system is interconnected.

“The dual lines from Olkaria distribute about 250 megawatts each. After one of the lines failed, the load was transferred to the other which collapsed due to the overload,” said the CS on Wednesday.

“But it is also important to note that this station was built a long time ago.” Speaking in Nairobi during a tour of the Juja sub-station where the power lines were cut off, Mr Keter however said the system had been restored and power redistributed to the affected regions.

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Several towns, including the capital Nairobi and shopping centres across the country, were thrown into darkness on Tuesday evening after the glitch leading to early closure of businesses.

Some traders said they recorded losses due to the outage. Mr Keter said plans were underway to upgrade and digitise the Juja station to avert an occurrence of similar blackouts. 

The CS spoke as a section of opposition MPs asked the National Assembly to summon him over increased power bills.

Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo and his nominated counterpart Godfrey Osostsi dismissed an earlier explanation by the CS saying it did not add up.

The MPs also want Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC managing director Ken Tarus and director general of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Robert Oimeke summoned by the Parliamentary Committee on Energy for subjecting poor Kenyans to high electricity bills.

Mr Keter had on Monday attributed the rise in charges to an ongoing upgrade of Kenya Power’s billing system, refuting claims of a change in tariff or backdating electricity bills.

But when asked about the intended summons, Mr Keter dismissed the claims saying the ministry had been transparent in its explanations and adding that no extra charges would be levied on Kenyans.

“Just as I had explained on Monday, Kenyans will not be charged more. KPLC has already put its house in order,” he said.  “In fact, I am ready to face the committee and explain myself further.”

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