Locals to wait longer for cheap wind power

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The ripple effects of the recently commissioned Lake Turkana Wind Power project won’t be immediately felt by the common mwananchi, until the medium to long-term period.

This means small-scale electricity consumers won’t enjoy reduced power costs in the short-term as a result of the 17 per cent addition to the national grid.

Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd chairman, Mr Mugo Kibati, has said developing the manufacturing sector is key in ensuring that the ordinary mwananchi enjoys lower power costs.

“There are contracts between the investors and the government which must be honoured, because it’s a huge investment and there is only one buyer — Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC),” said Mr Kibati during the commissioning of the Sh70 billion project and the Sh28 billion Loiyangalani-Suswa high-voltage power transmission line in Marsabit County.

“You may not see an immediate lowering of prices because the commitments the government has with the power plants have to be honoured. However, if we grow the economy and the ‘Big Four’ really take off, especially the manufacturing sector, which has heavy power consumption, then we will have no excess power,” he added.

Mr Kibati said this will happen every time there is new, inexpensive energy coming into the national grid, with the averages getting lower because the energy is heavily consumed by many people.

When there is excess energy not being consumed, it is hard to lower power costs, he observed.

“Despite Lake Turkana Wind Power coming into the grid with inexpensive energy, it does not immediately translate to cheap energy, but rather, depends on the rest of the economy picking up.

But over time, it will have the envisioned impact as the economy grows and new, heavy and large-scale consumers come in,” Mr Kibati offered.

He noted that the manufacturing sector, with its heavy consumption of energy, is the most ideal in this situation.

Lake Turkana Wind Power will sell energy to Kenya Power at Sh9.90 per kWh for the first six years in line with the 20-year contract, and for Sh8.92 per kWh for the remaining 14 years, adjusted for inflation as stipulated in the agreement.

Lake Turkana Wind Power executive director Rizwan Fazal observed that by the end of October, when the facility will be generating 1.683 tWh of energy per year, it will sell the additional power to Kenya Power at 50 per cent of the tariff.

This will bring down their average tariffs considerably and trickle down to consumers.

Mr Fazal also sought to dispel the misconception that the plant, operating at 63 per cent, is below average.

He noted that globally, most wind farms operate at an average capacity of 25 to 35 per cent.

Billed as the largest wind farm on the continent, the Lake Turkana facility injects an additional 310.25 mw into the national grid, and has reportedly saved the country Sh8.5 billion in the past 10 months.

Its 438km conveyance line built by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) to transmit power from Loiyangalani to Suswa has triggered economic growth in the five counties through which it passes, said the firm’s managing director, Mr Fernandes Barasa.

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