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 Kenyans to shoulder lighter power bills

Kenyans can expect lower power bills in the next few months following enhanced production of hydroelectric power as a result of improved water inflows.

Energy and Petroleum CS Davis Chirchir said the ongoing heavy rains in the River Tana catchment areas have resulted in more water at the Seven Forks Dams that has allowed the Kenya Energy Generating Company to maximise hydro production which yields far much cheaper power than thermal generators.

He said thermal contribution to the country’s energy mix has been reduced to about 4 per cent while the dams are producing 498 MW that could be increased further in coming days with the bringing on stream the 40MW of the Masinga power station.

He disclosed that power production at the Seven Forks main reservoir, Masinga, is off for now as Kengen tries to build up water reserves to maximum levels.

“For now, Masinga is offline as we are not using its water for generation. It is filling up at the rate of 0.7M per day and we expect it to be full in four to seven days,” Chirchir said.

The CS was speaking at Masinga after assessing water levels in the Seven Forks accompanied by Garissa MP Dekow Mohamed, Energy Principal Secretary Alex Wachira and Kengen CEO Eng. Peter Njenga.

Mohammed was on the trip at the invitation of the CS following anxiety in flooded Garissa and Tana River Counties that water from the Dams had been released hence causing the human suffering happening downstream.

Mohamed said he had observed that the dams were nowhere near spilling over yet and attributed the flooding in his constituency to water from rivers that rise from the Meru side of Mt. Kenya and join the Tana below Kiambere Dam, which is the last dam in the seven forks cascade.

Mohamed said most of Old Garissa Town is submerged and there were fears that the flooding could extend to the new town once the dams filled up and started spilling over.

Chirchir added that before the rains, water levels in the Seven Forks had gone down reducing the dams’ contribution to the country’s power mix to about 30 per cent which had now risen to about 82 per cent.

He said that the government has started the process of developing the long-proposed Grand Falls Dam in Tharaka Nithi County in order to control the water from the Meru side rivers, generate power and provide irrigation water in the semiarid region.

The dam which is at feasibility studies stage could be ready by 2031.

Wachira said they would be updating downstream residents on new developments on the water situation.

He advised residents of Garissa and Tana River counties to be cautious and to be ready to move when advised.

Eng. Njenga said the dams combined hold back about half of the Tana’s flow that would otherwise wreak havoc downstream.

He said the second dam in the cascade Kamburu, was expected to fill up in three days.

By Steve Gatheru

 

 

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