M a r k e t N e w s

Kenya Power Rolls Out Sh22 Billion Plan to Tame Outages

Posted on : Wednesday, 31st August 2016

 Kenya Power will spend Sh22 billion to modernise electricity grid as a growing number of connections puts pressure on the current network.

After three national outages in 2016, and a rising concern over the quality of power supply, the utility provider will now create an alternative network to take over when the current lines become faulty, effectively minimising blackouts.
Dubbed the 2016-20121 Grid Development and Maintenance Plan, the project will involve refurbishing the current network and remapping power distribution.
The Company's Managing Director Ben Chumo told Smart Company that the move will elevate Kenya's quality of power supply above its peers.
"We are making good progress to rehabilitate and rebuild our distribution network to be flexible enough and meet international benchmarks. One of the things we want to achieve is create a redundant network that allows the company to switch customers to alternative supply lines during planned and unplanned outages," Mr Chumo said.
"While it is a norm to notify our customers of planned shutdowns to facilitate maintenance works, it may not be possible to forewarn them on unforeseen system breakdowns."
The redundant network forms the alternative line of supply such that if one line goes off, power is automatically supplied by the other line hence the customer stays continuously connected. The system is used in advanced economies.
In the current financial year, Kenya power will spend Sh5.5 billion in network refurbishment and creation of redundant network especially in the industrial zones. Already some large power and domestic customers within the Industrial Area in Nairobi had benefited from the Boresha Stima Viwandani which involved revamping of substations and construction of additional power lines.
Frequent outages
Local manufacturers have regularly cited frequent outages as one of the reasons cheaper power is yet to translate to reduction of commodity prices.In 2014, a Kenya Association of Manufacturers' survey among its members revealed that industries on average lost the equivalent of five per cent of the monthly electricity bill in certain sectors and as high as 18 per cent in other sectors.
The manufacturers switch to generators when outages occur adding to their cost of production, hence the continued high prices of commodities. Kenya Power equally suffers huge revenue losses during blackouts especially from the large consumers who account for 60 per cent of its revenues.
The current network has had no major upgrades since 1922. The network is not only old but outweighed by the rapid electrification the government has embarked on in the last three years.
Having served only 2.2 million households since it was built, the line is now expected to serve 5.5 million households representing about 60 per cent of the country. The country's access rate to power is targeted to hit 70 per cent by the end of next year ahead of the expected universal access by 2020.
The narrow network is also expected to distribute the additional 657 megawatts (MW) of power generated since 2013 as the government targets to hit the 5,000MW power generation goal by next year. Kenya's current peak demand of 1,586MW is expected to rise to 2,864MW in 2021 hence the need for stronger and expanded grid.
A recent national outage was blamed on the old electricity transmission lines' susceptibility to even slight disruption including by wild animals like the monkey incident in June.
Early this month another outage was blamed on the old power line from Suswa substation in Kajiado County.
Also part of the planned upgrade is to reduce network losses due to faulty lines as well as tampered meters and illegal connections.
Kenya hopes to reduce the current network losses from 19.5 to 10 by 2021, according to the strategy document seen by Smart Company.
Kenya Power has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Toshiba Transmission & Distribution Systems (India) Private Limited (TTDI) to implement a pilot project aimed at decreasing distribution losses in the national grid.
"As the network grows in tandem with the rapid increase in the number of customers, we experience both technical and commercial losses. We are focused on bringing down the system losses from the current 19 per cent to single-digit figures in the medium-term," said Mr Ben Chumo.
Reducing the distance between one substation and another as well as replacing 74,000 wooden poles with concrete ones in main lines will also help stabilise power supply and make it easy to deal with a section of faulty areas without affecting many customers.

Source : allafrica.com
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