NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Consumers in Kenya are bracing for
higher electricity tariffs following failed rains in the
October-December 2016 season that saw water levels in hydropower
generation dams fall considerably.
The tariffs, which rose in December
last year, are expected to sustain the upward trend as the
Meteorological Department forecasts that dry weather conditions
will prevail in most parts of the country in the coming months.
“The average retail tariffs slightly
increased in December due to increase in fuel cost charge
occasioned by a rise in petrol thermal power in the energy
mix by three percent. This was mainly due to low water
levels at Sondu-Miriu and Seven Forks dams necessitating
running of petrol based thermal power plants to cover the
short-fall,” said the Energy Regulatory Commission in a
Kenya in 2015 injected 280 megawatts
(MW) of cheaper geothermal energy to the national grid, pushing
up installed capacity from 1,765 MW in June 2013 to 2,327 MW in
The increase had reduced the country’s
reliance on expensive diesel generators, shifting the energy mix
from 53 percent hydro, 25 percent thermal and 20 percent
geothermal in 2013 to 41 percent hydro, 13 percent thermal and
40 percent geothermal in 2016.
The low level of water in hydropower
plants has, however, affected generation from the source,
prompting increased production from expensive thermal sources.
Last month, households that consumed
200 kilowatt hour (kWh) paid 34 U.S. dollars compared to 31
dollars in December 2012.
Fixed charge for domestic consumers
during the month rose to 1.5 dollars from 1.2 dollars while the
energy charge per kWh for those consuming above 50 units
increased to 0.13 dollars from 0.08 dollars.
Analysts say a rise in electricity
tariffs adds burden to consumers and sets them up for higher
inflation, which now stands at 6.4 percent.
Already, Kenyans in the capital
Nairobi and other urban centers are experiencing water shortages
due to falling water levels in dams.
“Life is becoming tougher each day,
the cost of transport, food items and education has gone up
making things harder for people with large families like us.
Last month I paid a bill of 40 dollars from 25 that I
normally pay. While I blamed it on my five children who were
home for holiday, it is now clear the higher tariffs were
the major cause,” banker Emmanuel Makuno, a Nairobi
resident, said Friday.
The Ministry of Energy, however, has
allayed fears of a rise in power tariffs in the coming months,
saying the government is keen on lowering the tariffs.