Lake Turkana wind power project set to come on line by September

The Lake Turkana Wind Power project is expected to be connected to the national grid by September following the handing over to a Chinese contractor to set up the remaining section of  high voltage wires for evacuation of the green energy.

According to the Energy Regulatory Commission Director-General Pavel Oimeke, the project delayed due to challenges that faced Spanish companies, forcing the government to resort to another contractor, who has committed to complete the project within three months.

“Most Spanish companies had difficulties. They went under and could not manage to source materials to complete the project. As a country, we are safe and on course. We believe by September, we will have power from wind ,” he said.

The project’s main contractor, Spain’s Grupo Isolux Corsan, closed shop due to financial difficulties.

The wind farm, the largest in Africa, with a capacity of 310 megawatts — enough to power up to one million homes — was supposed to inject the first 50 megawatts into the grid in October 2016, and the whole capacity by last July.

But delays in construction of the 428-kilometre power line has hampered electricity evacuation from the northern town of Marsabit to Suswa sub-station in Narok, the country’s main interchange for power coming from different sources.

The Energy Ministry early this year said the power line linking the 310-megawatt wind power plant to national grid was 70 per cent complete, with the remaining work being putting up high voltage cables.

At the same time, the energy sector regulator has assured consumers that they will not pay additional Sh1 billion on monthly electricity bills should the country fail to connect Lake Turkana wind power to the national grid.

“Currently, we are not paying any money to the project owners…there was money that was supposed to be paid to them, but we have agreed that part of the money was to be loaded for a period of six years,” said Mr Oimeke.

Pay for delays

“That the country was to pay the Sh1 billion per month is not true. This money has no interest and it’s spread for a period of six years . . . we think it was a good arrangement since there was a give and take between Kenyan government and project owners,” he added.

He said should the Chinese contractor fail to complete the project by the stipulated time, it will be compelled to pay for any delays.

“We expect the contractor to complete this project by the end of August. Once completed, the project will ensure that we have clean and affordable power,” added the official.

Lake Turkana Wind Power — which has already fined Kenya Sh5.7 billion for delays — was to offer an additional penalty of Sh1 billion monthly should the country fail to connect the plant to the grid beyond June.

“We have up to June, otherwise we will have to pay deemed energy, which as you are aware, is about Sh1 billion per month,” said Energy CS Charles Keter early this year.

The Treasury allocated Sh5.7 billion in a supplementary budget to be wired to Lake Turkana Wind Power for last year’s delay, and fine was to be recovered this year from consumers via monthly bills.

On the coal power plant project in Lamu County, Mr Omieke said the commission supports it since it’s cost effective.

“As a country, we need this project, it will enable us to get cost effective energy to advance development,” he said.

He said countries such as Korea and South Africa are developing the power using clean-coal technology.

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