Erratic rains cut consumer power savings nine times

Wednesday March 18 2020

Kenya Power workers. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Increased use of diesel-fired plants cut electricity unit price by 30 cents in the five months to September or nine times lower than same period last year, highlighting the distorting effect of poorly distributed rainfall.

Data from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) shows the fuel charge cost stood at Sh3.45 in September compared to Sh3.75 per unit registered in May.

By comparison, good rains of the same period last year pulled down fuel charge to Sh2.70 in September 2018, down from Sh5.20 in April that year, translating to a relatively high cost saving of Sh2.50 per unit.

Poor rainfall distribution during the year’s March-May long rains affected food production and hydro power generation.

Government data shows total hydro power generation in the three months to June dropped 35.9 percent to 707.04 million kilowatt hour (kWh) compared to the 1,103.59 million kWh in the corresponding period last year.

Thermal generation in the three months to June increased 44 percent to 437.71 million kWh compared the 303.95 million kWh at a similar period last year.

The dry weather forced Kenya to generate more electricity using diesel, which increased consumer prices through the monthly adjusted fuel surcharge levy.

In May, the fuel cost levy jumped by the biggest margin in five years to Sh3.75 on reduced use of cheaper hydro power.

Average retail electricity cost for 200 units in August increased to Sh4,776 compared to July’s Sh4,752.

The cost for 50 units in August increased to Sh843 compared to the Sh837 charged in July.

The use of expensive thermal energy was worsened by depressed generation from wind which recorded lower output in the second quarter of the year.