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Cheap power a pipe dream as biting drought dashes hopes.

figure By CHARLES LWANGA Drought has wiped out the benefits of cheaper electricity from Sh83 billion solar and wind power plants, translating into higher bills for homes and businesses.The drought, which follows low rainfall during the October and November rainy season, has left at least 1.

1 million people in need of food aid and driven down water levels in dams.This has cut generation from the cheaper hydro sources by 39 percent or 163 million kilowatt hour (kWh) between August and February, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) data shows.

This has wiped out the benefits of the additional 151 million kWh of wind and solar power that was injected in the grid between August and February.The government had promised cheaper electricity from increased use of the two green sources by reducing costly thermal power and ultimately cutting the fuel cost adjustment levy in bills.

The Sh70 billion Turkana wind farm, which was switched on in October, injected 146 million kWh in February, while the Sh13 billion Garissa solar plant supplied seven million units.The ERC data show that the fuel surcharge levy which is influenced by the share of electricity from diesel generators continues to rise.

The fuel levy is currently Sh2.75 per KWh, up from Sh2.45 in January and Sh2.50 in September.However, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter said consumers could have been worse off without the solar and wind powerwhich accounted for 17 percent of the power consumed in February.

"We would have been rationing power now and all that contribution you see from wind and solar would be coming from thermal," Mr Keter said in a phone interview.Thermal power injection to the grid has dropped by 18 million KWh in February compared to August and accounted for 11 percent of electricity injected into the grid.

Maintenance of geothermal plant and reduced performance of hydropower dams during poor weather have made it difficult for homes and businesses to feel the impact of cheaper wind and solar power.A domestic consumer on 50KWh monthly paid Sh778 last month, up from Sh757 in November.

Those on 200 units paid S,515 last month from S,424 in November.Electricity from the wind park will cost Sh8.7 per unit, which is in the price range of geothermal and solar power, or three times cheaper than diesel generation.

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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:Apr 11, 2019
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