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Kenya will increase production of hydropower amid heavy rains

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s power producer KenGen said on Wednesday that it will increase capacity of hydro power stations following heavy rains that have raised water levels.

KenGen Managing Director Rebecca Miano said hydro power stations are now at optimal level to generate 820 MW of electricity and stabilize supply across the country.

"We will step up hydro generation in the months ahead but ensure we conserve available water to last until the short rains later in the year," Miano said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Hydro power, despite its erratic production, accounts for the largest chunk of Kenya’s energy mix at 52 percent. The heavy rains, which has wreaked havoc in most parts of the country, has seen water levels in several dams also rise to spilling levels.

The East African nation has been relying on geothermal power to curb the dips in electricity production during the dry season.

Miano said the hydro dams are expected to reach optimal level by May and this is expected to see power bills come down.

"By stepping up hydro generation, KenGen is ensuring stability of power supply as this will compliment contribution of the dominant geothermal," she said.

Miano said water at Masinga Dam, which is the largest in the Seven Forks cascade, had risen to 1,045 meters against a maximum level of 1,056 meters.

She said the ongoing rains will boost production in the eastern hydros of Masinga, Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma, Kiambere, which draw water from River Tana.

She said the increase in hydro power production is expected ease the cost of power, as it is the cheapest source of power in the country’s generation mix.

According to KenGen, hydro dams contribute 52.04 per cent of total national grid, with KenGen’s total installed hydro capacity currently standing at 820 MW.

Electricity bills rose in 2017 following a prolonged drought which cut power production from hydro, necessitating the increased demand from thermal power plants.

Miano said KenGen would also conserve the water at the dams to ensure it lasts until the next short rains season.

The Kenya Meteorological Department expects the heavy rains to continue till the end of the month as most parts of the country experience flooding.



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