Embu County is set to get a fifth hydro-electric power plant, following the entry of a private investor who is setting up a 6.8 megawatt station.
Rupingazi hydropower plant initiated by Kleen Energy venture in collaboration with other partners will operate along River Rupingazi in Njukiri Forest.
Eddie Mugo, the managing director of Kleen Energy, said his company signed a 25-year lease agreement with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) which manages the Njukiri Forest.
They have also inked a 20-year power purchase agreement with Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC and will supply an estimated 28,000,000 Kwh per year.
He said the completion of the project in the next one and half years will boost electricity supply.
Embu County business community has reported losses tied to frequent power outages yet the county hosts Seven Folks hydropower dam that produces almost half of the power in the country.
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) #ticker:KEGN has set up Gitaru, Kindaruma, Kamburu and Kiambere dams in Embu county.
Speaking at the site of the project, Mr Mugo said that he took up the initiative so that Kenyans in Mt Kenya region have reliable power supply and at an affordable price.
The project has taken five years since deciding on a 6.8MW complete feasibility studies and also to secure licences. Mr Mugo said the project will ensure that there is cheap energy and also create more than 500 job opportunities through establishment of industries.
He noted that Kenya cannot compete with other countries in terms of industrialisation if there was not enough power supply, leading to frequent outages or rationing during drought.
Mr Mugo said he has an agreement with the Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) and they have been permitted to collect only three cubic metres of water that must be redirected to the river.
Kenya’s power consumption has been rising thanks to the government’s increased connection of homes and businesses.
However, it is this swollen demand but less generation of electricity that has seen the country’s power reserve margins drop to a seven-year low of 4.4 per cent compared to the recommended levels of 15 per cent.
Embu county executive committee member for Roads and Energy Suleiman Kariuki said the project will have a great impact on the economy, saying it should prompt setting up of industries to create jobs.
Mr Kariuki, however, said it was not true that the project had led to low volumes of water downstream, adding that the project will only use flood waters, but which is also pumped back into the river.