Kenya Power is not used to the competition but reeling from the fact that many companies and people are switching to solar power a move that could grind operations to a painful cessation.
Due to constant outages and dragging in restoring power, grossly inflated electricity bills and taking ages to connect potential clients to the national grid this has made many companies to seek the solar option not to stay in the blackout.
Solar is by far the biggest beneficiary of KP’s self-inflicted problems, as manufacturers, county governments and individual power consumers take steps to end their reliance on the giant electricity provider.
Robert Kwena, a consultant based in Busia, says he is already considering switching to solar despite having been connected to the national grid just recently.
“When it drizzles, let alone rain heavily, power goes off and it may take up to three days to come back. When you go to Kenya Power offices in Busia, you find no service officer. If it is a case of a transformer, you are told to go to Kisumu almost one and a half hours away. I am seriously thinking of moving to solar since I need flawless access to power,” says Robert Kwena.
Kenya Power owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution system in the country and sells electricity to more than 7.5 million Kenyan households and companies.
Total Kenya has connected 107 of its service stations to solar energy, making it one of the biggest firms to significantly reduce its reliance on Kenya Power because of its high electricity costs that make Kenya Power run out of business.
“The solar energy powers lights, pumps, fridges, air conditioning and coffee machines, reducing reliance on the grid,” Total Kenya said in a tweet.
The firm says the move is part of efforts to align its operations with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 7, which focuses on the provision of sustainable, affordable, reliable and modern energy for all.
“Total remains committed to the global ambition to be CO2 emissionNet-Zeroro by 2050. This is a step in the right direction as a broad energy major. And the solarisation of our network of stations is part of our contribution to this great objective,” the firm noted.
The devolved governments not left behind as they are increasingly shifting to solar-powered streetlights to cut down on electricity bills, with Kiambu County being the latest to sign a Sh120 million deal with Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC), formerly Rural Electrification Authority, to install solar-powered street lights.
“We pay Kenya Power Sh10 million monthly, billed from street lights in Kiambu County. The new partnership will save us a lot of money,” Governor James Nyoro said.
”The shift to solar has been accelerated by the entry of REREC, which is working with counties to drive the adoption of renewable power,” he added.
Advancement in technology and lowering of tariffs on solar energy by almost 80 per cent have seen more businesses and individuals switch to solar. This has forced Kenya Power to go back to the drawing board.
It is expected that the firm may put together a team of engineers to review the concept, before implementing it afresh.
By Christabel Airo