Kenyan electricity consumers feel the pinch following Geothermal shutdown

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Kenyan electricity consumers were hit the hardest following shutdown of geothermal power plants cutting generation of renewable energy to a 22-month low in September, industry data shows.

The 70 –megawatt Olkaria I unit IV plant in Naivasha had been pulled off the grid for a mandatory inspection by the contractor after the warranty period ended is now open.

The shutdown led to Kenya Power Company to rely on costly diesel-generated power to meet consumers’ electricity needs. The shutdown   led to a cut in the generation of renewable energy to a 22- month low, denying businesses and home cheaper power.

The industry data shows that the state consumed 335.4m kilowatt hour (KWH) units of geothermal power which is the lowest level compared to 345m units of November two years ago.

Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen)  is one of the nation’s chief power producers.On being questioned Mr. Simon Ngure ,director of regulatory and corporate affairs at KenGen confirmed that  full generation of total units  is to be expected now that the plant is back on the  national grid.

The share of geothermal energy used by consumers dropped to 40.5 per cent compared to 48.5 per cent in January, behind hydropower.

Even though the share of the thermal power has risen compared to the 16.1 of august and 16.5 of September consumers are expected to receive a rise in their bill this October .This is mainly due to the fact that Kenya power resorted to costly fuel powered generators to harvest electricity.

The state depends on an energy mix of thermal sources, hydropower and geothermal which cost sh17, sh3 and sh 7 per kilowatt hour respectively.

The second  33 MV plant at Olkaria which had been shut in June  for  custom maintenance  is also back on the grid .The shutdown of this plant  led to the share of hydropower  supplied to the grid surpass geothermal for the first  time since July in 2014.

The only plant still off grid is Olkaria I unit III, It is a smaller plant with a capacity of 15MW.  It is expected to be back in the grid soon according to Ken Gen.

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