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Landlords risk jail as water heating rules deadline looms


Building owners face jail for failure to install solar water heating systems in the next two months.

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it would start enforcing regulations that require owners of large buildings to install solar water heating systems by May.

The regulations, which came into force in 2012, had given a five-year window to owners of buildings that consume more than 100 litres of hot water a day to install solar water heating systems.

The window lapses on May 25, meaning ERC could recommend prosecution of non-compliant landlords, who risk a year in prison or a Sh1 million fine.

The energy industry regulator said preliminary checks showed that most buildings developed over the past five years were compliant with the regulations. Acting ERC Director-General Robert Oimeke said a substantial number of owners of old commercial buildings had also installed solar water heaters, but noted that institutions such as schools, health centres and colleges as well as residential houses had not complied with the regulations.

“Most of the new buildings are compliant while about 70 per cent of the old commercial buildings have installed solar water heaters,” he said.

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“The challenge will be institutions such as schools and universities, all of which have a huge hot water requirement. Many are yet to comply with the regulations. There are also residential homes, mostly those with upwards of three bedrooms that also use a lot of hot water and are yet to install the systems.”

Mr Oimeke, who spoke Thursday in Nairobi, said ERC was unlikely to give extensions, noting that the five-year window was adequate for building owners to make investments in solar equipment. “By from May this year, we will start enforcing the regulations,” he said. The cost of installing solar equipment has been cited as a barrier and the reason why many developers have in the past failed to incorporate the new requirement during construction phases of a building.

Mr Oimeke said the cost of equipment had declined and that establishments that are heavily reliant on hot water for their operations stood to make huge savings on their electricity bills.

“Cost is not a barrier. A few years back, it was between one and two per cent of the cost of construction but today, it has substantially gone down,” he said.

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