Kenya Power seeks solutions to end power outages

In this interactive series, we invite our readers to send in questions to select public figures.

Answers will be published in the next print and online editions.

This week, Kenya Power CEO, Dr Ken Tarusresponds to your questions:

1. With growth and investment in renewable energy, what plans does Kenya Power have in diversifying into solar energy to add extra watts of energy to the national grid?

Dr Neok Kijomba, Kasarani

The Government has in place a feed-in tariff policy that allows for incorporation of renewable energy notably in wind, solar and biogas sources into the grid.

Some of our off-grid power systems use hybrid systems of solar and wind sources.

We advise all interested investors to visit the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum on guidance on the policy.

Renewable energy now forms the bulk of our supply at approximately 80 percent of all power dispatched mainly from hydropower and geothermal sources.

This demonstrates that the sector has made significant strides in investing and adopting renewable energy.

2. When Kenya Power was rolling out prepaid meters, I applied and was allocated one in Bungoma in 2015. The post-paid meters were removed from the site by KPLC staff.

However, I still get bills for the post-paid meters two years down the line and despite numerous inquiries at the Bungoma branch nothing seems to be done.

Eventually I reluctantly paid about Sh15,000 for the accrued amounts of the monthly standing charges. I still continue to receive monthly bills.

What could be problem and how can you help? My account numbers are 4276657/58/59/60-01 and 3898200-01 in Bungoma.

Anthony Barasa Masinde, Nairobi

Sorry about this Anthony. Please make a formal written request for the termination of the post-paid accounts or share with our office in Bungoma copies of previous requests to facilitate the termination of the accounts.

3. Some two years ago, electricity poles were brought to Chemelil village, which gave us hope of being connected to the electricity. However, to date, nothing seems to have been done. When will we ever be connected to electricity?

Kibiwott Kimetto, Chemelil

Chemelil is a very big area, the size of a sub-county.

To enable us give an accurate response, I need a more exact geographical location.

Please share your contacts so as to follow up on this or visit our County Business Managers in Kisumu or Kericho office.

4. We have had a power blackout since September 1, 2017. This has affected a whole Imahani village plus key public installations like St Anne Musoli Girls High School and Imani School among others. We have reported to your Kakamega office and KPLC contact centre yet we keep getting the same response that the transformer blew up. What is Kenya Power doing about this?

Alex Andabwa, Isulu, Kakamega

We transferred the affected schools and other customers to a nearby transformer at Musoli Market centre when the transformer blew up. I am happy to report that the faulty transformer was replaced on Sunday, September 17, and normalcy of power supply was restored.

5. Going by your massive infrastructure all over the country, are you seeing any possibility of another power company in Kenya? If Kenya succeeds to start nuclear plant, what would this mean to Kenyans and would electricity be cheaper?

Joel Koori, Kirinyaga

Kenya has one of the most dynamic power markets in the region.

With the unbundling of the electricity sub-sector about two decades back, we have seen a lot of positive changes that have worked both for the customer, the government and the energy sector players including KenGen, the Independent Power Producers and Kenya Power.

Strictly speaking, the current energy policy does not restrict competition in power distribution business and thus, it is possible for a player to enter the market and compete with Kenya Power.

However, all sector players will need to operate in a regulated environment, with Energy Regulatory Commission providing oversight.

Nuclear generation will be a significant milestone in the power generation business and will help compliment and diversify the existing power mix.

This will help reduce overreliance on climate-dependent hydropower sources and the expensive thermal power.   

6. The problem of ‘on and off’ power supply has been an issue among consumers. What causes this and will there be a time when the problem will be fully solved?

Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

I wish to express regret for any inconvenience caused by these outages.

However, causes of outages are varied from human activities causing disruptions along the network to planned shutdowns by Kenya Power to carry out maintenance activities.

There are also natural causes such as strong rains and winds affecting power lines among others.

As you can see, some of these causes are within our control whereas others are outside.

However, we are investing heavily in projects that will improve the state of the grid and create additional power lines that give electricity to customers from alternative feeding points and thereby minimising disruptions.

Good news is that we have made progress as shown by reduction in number of power outage incidences as per our system records, which have been corroborated by regional surveys.

As such, Kenya enjoys one of the most stable electricity supply service in the Sub–Saharan Africa.

However, there is room for improvement and we are making steady progress towards the same.

7. I come from Siaya (North Alego, Komolo village-Gul area). Sometime back we were promised a transformer in our area after the one initially meant for us was placed far from the identified position thus leaving us outside the radius of 600 metres.

After raising up the matter we were told to wait for Last Mile Project, which has never reached this part of North Alego.

Unfortunately, we have been taken in circles and tossed between Kisumu and Siaya offices of Kenya Power.

What do we have to do to be connected like the rest of Kenyans?
Vincent Achieng’, Siaya

The Last Mile Project is on course albeit in the initial phase.

With the government’s commitment to achieve access to electricity by all Kenyans by year 2020, we will sooner than later connect Komolo village.

8. Sir, are you aware that some of your staff and contractors are involved in shoddy and dangerous works that do not meet minimum safety requirements? What are you doing about this?

Peter Mwangi, Olkalou

In our line of work, safety is a priority.

All works carried out by our staff and contractors have clearly defined standards of expectation and any breach to these requirements will be investigated by our technical supervisors.

I appeal to all Kenyans to report any safety issues to our offices, or to local administration or call 95551. 

9. I have been applying to be connected to electricity many times (E25822014080084, E25822014120225 and E28402015120177) but with no positive response except huge quotations. I thought the last mile would leave me smiling but that was never to be. What can you do to help me out, sir?

John Kivaa Mutua, Kitui

John, our records show your home is about one kilometre away from our nearest line.

We have a later phase of the Last Mile Project that will connect customers beyond the 600 metres the phases of Last Mile Projects we are implementing now are connecting.

I beg for your patience.

10. In the last two years, the government embarked on the Last Mile Project. How do you plan to work with other public agencies in this sector like Kenya Rural Electrification Authority to see that every homestead in Kenya has power in line with Vision 2030?

Dan Murugu, Nakuru

Indeed, we are working with the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, and Rural Electrification Authority to connect every household in Kenya by the year 2020.

Last Mile Project is expected to be a key driver towards this target.

The project is helping Kenyans get connected to electricity at a cheaper cost.

It is supported by the Government and other donors. We also have private contractors who are helping us implement the project.

Just last week, we launched the Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project to provide electricity to Kenyans leaving in areas far from the national grid.

11. Sir, what is your take on the monopolistic standing of Kenya Power in the market and is there a position for a competitor to encourage better service delivery?

Stephen Koome, Nairobi

Yes, Steve, as noted in a related question, the current energy policy does not restrict competition in power distribution business and, thus, it is possible for a player to enter the market.

12. Two months ago, I raised an issue of emergency through twitter to Kenya Power customer care. This was about a tree that had fallen on electric wires.

The customer care desk even asked for my contacts and I gave them. They promised that an emergency team would respond but nothing has been done to date. Who should take the responsibility of such negligence? 

Solomon Gatobu, Maua

Thanks for this Solomon. There was a breakdown in communication on our end.

I have since taken the matter up and it should be resolved by the time you read this.

13. While I appreciate the improvements KPLC has made, I wonder if any your officers ever go round Kiserian/Ngong areas checking poles that lean precariously over buildings and roads.

This is common in areas with black cotton soil like Ole Roimen road and Matasia area in general. The poles pose high risk to buildings and families.

Daniel Mbwika, Ole Roimen Kiserian

Thanks for the compliment Daniel, we will investigate your observations urgently.

Going forward, we are changing the way we manage our lines by aligning our services to our lines in what we are calling Feeder Based Business Units.

This will make it easier to manage our lines.

14. Small shareholders of your company have difficulties collecting their dividends since your branch offices withheld cashing of cheques. Please advise how this can be sorted out and whether you can take your Annual General Meetings away from Nairobi to allow such shareholders attend.

Dan Murugu, Nakuru

Majority of shareholders prefer Nairobi for its convenience.

However, your suggestion on convening the AGM meetings outside Nairobi will be deliberated upon.

On dividend payments, shareholders are advised to formally request to get their payments through M-Pesa by filling a form at the Shares Registrar’s office at Stima Plaza.

You can request for the form via email using the address

15. I requested for the removal of power lines over a plot along Njiru-Mwiki road a few metres from Kangundo road so that I would develop it. To my shock, I received a bill of more than Sh600,000 and this made me shelve the development plans.

What criteria is applied to select from what point to shift power lines that run over private land?

Samuel Kagumba, Njiru

The cost of moving a powerline depends on various factors such as the length of line to be moved, where the line is being moved to, and the resources required to move the line among other factors.

It can be quite an involving project. Please seek clarification from the nearest Kenya Power office. 

16. Despite being a monopoly and the increase in the number of customers connected why has your profitability not increased in relatively the same margin?

John, Nairobi (Amber Logistics)

It is true that our customer base has been expanding significantly in the recent past and will continue for the next three years as we endeavour to enable all Kenyans have access to electricity.

However, majority of these recent customer connections were connected under government and donor funded subsidies for Last Mile and Informal Settlements/slums with majority of these consuming less than average number of electricity units.

Growth is also determined by macroeconomic factors and sector regulations. 

17. My family has been trying to get connected to the power grid for almost a year now without success yet the power line is barely 100 metres from our house.

Instead, we are being told to pay Sh180,000 by the Ruiru office to get connected. Is this reasonable and can you personally take up this matter?

Stanley Mwangi, Ruiru Kiambu

Stanley, we need more details. Did you apply for electricity and were you given a reference number after applying?

18. Kenyans who perpetually experience frequent power failures hold a strong feeling that this is largely because you enjoy a notable monopoly in power supply.

There have been arguments that other organisations be allowed in to dilute the monopoly Kenya Power is currently abusing. What is your take on this?

Francis Njuguna, Kibichoi

The electricity sector, like many other sectors of the economy, suffered from years of under-investment leading to poor quality and unreliable power supply and inability to meet the growing demand.

However, with government support, we have made progress in the last decade both in improving service delivery and connecting more Kenyans to the grid.

We still have a journey ahead but we are making steady progress towards providing service that delights our customers. 

19. Sir, the Last Mile connectivity was meant to uplift the living standard of the poor but has led to growing of fraudsters.

In Mogogosiek, Konoin sub-county, Bomet County, the contractor who was connecting the locals under the programme demanded Sh5,000 for every post to be installed.

I reported the matter to KPLC Bomet but no action was ever taken.

Jeff Chepkwony Sigor, Chepalungu

We take integrity very seriously. We need your contacts to enable our integrity office to pursue this matter to the end.

Please report all ethical issues to dedicated hotline 0718999000 or through our online reporting platform on our website www.kplc.co.ke 

20. I applied to get power supply almost a year ago but nothing has happened yet my home is only 200 metres from a dormant transformer placed inside Sigoti Primary School.

I have been visiting both Kisumu and Katito KPLC offices but the answer is always the same that they are waiting for a senior KPLC officer from Nairobi to come and commission the line. Kindly intervene.

Tom Oremo, Nyakach Sub-County Kisumu

Tom, we need your contacts so that we can get in touch and propose a Last Mile Project to maximise the Sigoti Primary School fully and thus benefit the community

21. I applied to be connected to the National grid on March 1, 2014 and given Ref- E25202013110124 and advised to make a payment of Sh34,980 but to my surprise when I later presented myself to your offices I was told that the rates had been revised to Sh281,000.

I have followed the issue till now without much help.

John Wamai  

I have confirmed that the quote you received of Sh281,000 is indeed correct having factored in all connection costs including materials required, labour and transport.

However, given time, the application will be covered under the subsequent phases of the Last Mile Project subsidy to ease your financial burden.

22. What should a Kenyan citizen do when KPLC trespasses private property without any approval.

Your legal department acknowledged my complaint vide Ref-KPLC1/2A/7/40 dated October 27, 2014 promising to carry out investigations but up to date I have not heard or received any feedback.

John Wamai

Mr Wamae you have not indicated specifically what the details of the trespass are, for instance, if it is a line is passing over your property.

It would also be helpful to share a copy of the letter to Kenya Power expedite tracking of the complaint given that it was made some time ago.

Our Legal Department will, then, ensure to follow up and resolve the complaint once these details are established.

23. Sir, there has been constant power outage for a period of two weeks in Wajir County.

As a result, the residents have sought answers at the office in Wajir yet no action is being taken to address the issue that has paralyzed business and homes. Kindly address this.

El Hajji Amin, Wajir County

We have three generators that supply power to Wajir, two of them are currently faulty.

However, we have managed to transfer the load to the functional generator as our technical repair teams continue working hard to normalise supply.

24. What guarantee does KPLC have in offering quality internet services when it has failed in delivering quality services in its core business of power distribution and maintenance?

Joseph Odiembo, Nairobi

Investing in an extensive power network such as ours is expensive and takes time.

Riding on the inherent advantages of our overhead power infrastructure, we have leased out our extra dark fibres to several major internet service providers, meaning that a lot of internet users are indirectly enjoying our service.

25. I am on post-paid metering and at times it can take up to five months for KPLC staff to come and read my meter.

In the meantime I will continue to receive different monthly bills (not a uniform estimated bill) all based on the last meter reading.

What formula does KPLC use to generate such bills?

Onesmus Karanja, Juja

Bill estimation is a global practice used by utilities such as Kenya Power.

It factors in your average monthly consumption over time as captured by our customer transaction systems.

However, we at Kenya Power endeavour to read customer meters at least once every two to three months to minimise errors on bills.

There are times that our meter readers are unable to read your meter because of lack of access to your premises.

Please report this issue to our nearest office and prevent such occurrence in future. 

26. While paying bills at Electricity House, you find there are over 15 teller units yet only half of them have attendants. 

Sometimes the network is down hence long queues.

Have you considered express counters, cheque payments, bulk payments et cetera?

Catherine Muthoni, Nairobi

At the beginning of this month, we upgraded our customer system leading to temporary disruption of our services.

Apart from our banking halls, we have various platforms where customers can settle their bills.

These include mobile money solutions and our Easypay partners as detailed out in our website www.kplc.co.ke.

27. Sometime on February 2017, I experienced damage to my TV, fridge and other household items due to power surge.

I reported the same to the police and obtained a police abstract after their inspection.

A copies of the report and of a letter by my lawyer were delivered to the engineer in-charge Kericho and to yourselves.

No report has been received from them to date. What is your take on this matter?

Joel K. Sang, Kericho (A/c No. 2045977)

Indeed, we received your complaint. We are investigating the matter and will get back to you formally.

28. I applied and paid for power connection in 2013 (Ref. E25302013010128) yet to date I have not been connected.

My efforts to follow up on the matter, including writing to your customer care have borne no fruits.

When will Kenya Power act?

Muthomi Mairura Muuna, Meru

Muthomi, I am aware of your issue.

Owing to the high cost of connecting you, we will put your application under the Last Mile Project to ease the financial burden on your part.

29. In relation to the Last Mile Project, I applied for the installation on May of 2016.

I was informed that only two poles would be required to my location yet nothing has happened to date.

What could have led to the seemingly short process taking too long to be accomplished?

Peter Kuria, Nakuru

A change in design can lead to re-routing of power lines.

To give a more specific answer, we need to know your exact location to know what circumstances led to the change of requirements.

Please visit our County Business manager in Nakuru for guidance.

30. I applied for electricity connection on plot No. 1433 Gitwe on July 10, 2013 and paid Sh39,980 for the connection via reference E21502013040030 on October 15, 2013.

Since then I have been taken round in circles.

The Limuru office that is supposed to help us is of no help instead they keep referring us to Thika then Naivasha and finally Ol-Kalou and then back to Limuru.

Can you facilitate the refund or connection of the power?

Mugo Macharia, Kenton Gitwe

I have requested our Kiambu County Business Manager to find out the cause of this delay and ensure that you have power supply by end of next week. Apologies for the delay.

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