Kenya Power has launched a Sh13.2 billion project to lay underground cables in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, expected to stabilise electricity supply in the three cities.
The electricity distributor on Tuesday said implementation of its terrestrial network cabling in Nairobi is 20 per cent done.
The underground cables will provide alternative supply to existing power substations.
Currently, 22 kilometres of the planned 25.71 kilometres of 66kV transmission lines is complete, while installation works on the Likoni Road substation is finalised and pre-commissioning test is ongoing.
Kenya Power acting CEO Ken Tarus said fibre network cables will also run along the underground cables to boost communication network as well.
“There are so many challenges with power overhead, from competing need for space and many other interruptions including from trees which hinder our quality of supply. We may still encounter the challenges of wayleave acquisition but this is definitely going to make a quality boost for our increasing customer base,” Mr Tarus said on Wednesday while inspecting progress near Wilson Airport.
The underground line will have a redundant network around the city to create flexibility of the existing system such that when one fails, it picks up to minimise power outages.
A new 220/66kV substation in the city centre and a 16.5 kilometre, 220kV underground cable will run from the Embakasi substation to the proposed city centre substation at a cost of Sh10.56 billion in the first phase of the project earlier planned to run until 2021.
It will also entail construction of 25.71 kilometres of 66kV transmission lines in underground cable to connect the new city centre substation to the proposed Likoni Road substation, Nairobi West, Cathedral, City Square, Muthurwa and Parklands substations.
Kenya Power, whose customer base has been expanding over the years, is faced with heavy infrastructure investments to meet supply adequacy and quality for the six million customers.
The underground cabling project is funded by a twenty-year concessional loan from China Exim Bank and implemented by Chinese power equipment maker TBEA, with three local contractors Voacom (K) Limited, H.K Builders and AKS subcontracted.
The move is part of a network modernisation plan which also involve network reinforcement measures including upgrading faulty or overloaded transformers and adding new ones.