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Hydropower plants face closure due to drought

The government may be forced to close down some of the power production lines at Masinga Hydro power station following a huge drop in the volume of water at the Masinga reservoir.

The shutdown may force energy generator, Kengen, to revert to geothermal and the more expensive thermal generation, Energy CS Davis Chirchir said today

Mr Chirchir said prolonged dry weather and inadequate seasonal rains over the last two years had seen the water depleted to a level where closing some of the generation lines may be the only way out.

He spoke a Kamburu Hydropower station during an assessment tour of the Seven Forks dams.

“If it doesn’t rain we may close down the dam due to low water level,” said the CS as he toured the dam in Embu County.

The use of diesel to generate power is expensive and consequently Kenyans who are already paying high bills for power should expect to pay more for electricity.

“We have power production challenges because of the dry spell and we may close Masinga dam if the situation doesn’t improve,” Mr. Chirchir added.

He noted that in the past five years Kenya has experienced rain failure, an issue which has depleted water in Masinga and other dams which are a source of hydro-power.

“We have water level problems and we may be forced to push other forms of power generation to meet the country’s power demand but the only challenge we might get is that power will be slightly more expensive,” he said.

Accompanied by his Principal Secretary Alex Wachira, the CS also toured Kaburu dam which has also been affected by the harsh weather.

Mr Chirchir however said should it rain in the next fifteen days the dams will have adequate water.

However he said there should be no cause for alarm as Kenya is “very energy diverse” in terms of power generation.

“Kenya produces 30 per cent of hydro-power, we also have geothermal and diesel power. With these forms of power generation we can sustain our economy even during these difficult times,” he said.

The CS also noted that due to the huge drop in water level at Masinga, some residents have taken advantage and started farming activities on the dam’s land.

Residents have converted the large dry part of Masinga into farms where they are growing maize and other crops for survival.

The residents said they are only trying their luck to see if they can feed their families who are hard hit by the biting drought.

Other residents are grazing their hungry domestic animals on the greener parts of the dam to save their lives.

“Our animals are also starving and we have to use the greener land by the dam to graze them,” one of the residents said.

The residents could be seen looking after their animals at the dam and others busy planting.

By Steve Gatheru

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