Energy CS Charles Keter has assured Kenyans that they would not pay more for electricity, contradicting a report by Kenya Power last week that power bills would be backdated to recover a Sh8.1 billion deficit.
Mr Keter said that the inconsistent power bills experienced by customers recently were as a result of an imperfect billing system that estimated meter readings instead of taking actual readings.
“What we are facing is a billing fluctuation following an upgrade in billing systems by KPLC, which is being resolved on a case-by-case basis. Kenya Power has called on any customer who has a complaint to visit their offices for assessment and review of their accounts for swift resolution,” he said.
The CS further said that no bills have been backdated and tariffs have not changed, pointing out that it would take a lengthy process by the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) to introduce new power tariffs.
In a statement last week, Kenya Power said it would backdate its customers’ bills to fund a deficit occasioned by a high fuel cost charge in 2017. This was a result of using thermal generators to make up for loss of hydropower due to the prolonged drought.
The announcement raised an uproar, with many of its consumers complaining that they are being forced to pay extortionate amounts in power bills.
Users on social media have rallied behind a hashtag #switchoffKPLC to protest inflated power bills, with some saying that they are currently paying more than double what they were billed in the previous months.
“I was billed Sh22,000 in December last year, up from an average of Sh6,000-7,000 a month. This is unacceptable and that is why I have added my voice to the protest. We are happy to pay what we owe but KPLC cannot bill us incorrectly and expect us to do nothing,” said an outraged Jerotich Seii, one of the active accounts behind #switchoffKPLC.
Former Law Society of Kenya boss Apollo Mboya has said that he is organising a class action suit against Kenya Power, ERC and the Ministry of Energy over incorrect billing.
“What the minister has said is a confirmation of what we have long suspected – that they have been billing us based on guesswork and not correct meter readings. We are still collecting data and so far have over 400 respondents on record who have supplied us with their previous and current power bills showing large increases in the past few months. We plan to file the suit by the end of this week,” he said.
Other than the inflated bills, the suit will also address power interruptions, malfunctioning equipment and a rise in the price of electricity tokens for prepaid customers.
Mr Keter, however, maintained that only 2.4 million customers under the old post-paid system have been affected by the inaccurate bills, and promised to have the issue sorted out once a new billing system is in place by the end of this month.
“The new system also allows a consumer to self-read their meter and upload on an app on their phone to enhance billing accuracy,” he said.
The CS also announced that the ERC would standardise the pre-paid meter system to ensure that customers get the same number of tokens regardless of how many they buy at a go, as the old system, which staggers tariffs based on quantity, has been confusing many customers.
There are 3.9 million pre-paid meter users. The company has 6.4 million customers in total.