Kenya Power will go on with a Sh1.5 billion tender to purchase new electricity transformers and open two new repair plants to end a biting shortage of the transmission equipment.
The power distribution firm’s acting managing director Geoffrey Muli said yesterday that they had received the regulator’s nod to proceed with the tender to buy new transformers.
He said the two repair facilities will be opened in Kisumu and Nakuru, bringing to five the number of such plants around the country. The firm has three other facilities in Nairobi, Eldoret and Mombasa.
Mr Muli, however, said the trio has been unable to keep up with the high number of transformers that are brought in from various parts of the country for repairs, leading to prolonged blackouts. This comes after procurement woes at the firm that had derailed efforts to buy new ones forcing households, businesses and institutions to wait longer to be reconnected to the mains.
Mr Muli said the firm had repaired 138 transformers and was all set to restore power supply to the affected customers.
Having to switch off
Acknowledging the utility’s challenges, Mr Muli said the new repair facilities in Kisumu and Nakuru “will increase our capacity for repairs and ease the load on our current facilities in Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret.”
Kenya Power has also set up a laboratory to test live line tools and equipment in Ruaraka, Nairobi, to enable it to carry out repairs and maintenance on high and medium voltage wires without having to switch off power supply.
The firm has expanded its distribution network since 2013 by connecting more than 8.27 million consumers to the national grid in nine years, up from 2.26 million. However, network expansion outpaced investment in support infrastructure like transformers. This has overstretched the existing facilities, causing frequent power outages.
Mr Muli said the procurement regulator had given the firm the go-ahead to continue with its Sh1.5 billion tender to procure new transformers to address the ongoing shortage.
“We expect to get the new transformers within three months. The advantage we have is that we are sourcing them directly from the manufacturer, so we won’t have any delays,” Mr Muli said.
He said the company will prioritise rollout of the new transformers in the densely-populated Nairobi as well as Nyanza and Western regions, where the equipment is prone to lightning strikes.
Kenya Power wants to buy 2,144 new transformers—a quarter of the 8,778 distribution transformers it has installed across the country to address the current crisis.