Spillage sets stage for cheaper power

Over­flow ex­pected to boost elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion and en­sure sta­bil­ity of sup­ply

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY CHARLES WANY­ORO AND ABDIMALIK HAJIR news­desk@ke.na­tion­media.com

Wa­ter at Masinga Dam has risen to 1,067.78 me­tres against 1,067.60 me­tres ca­pac­ity

Power gen­er­a­tor Ken­gen has started dis­charg­ing wa­ter from Masinga Dam into River Tana af­ter the reser­voir filled up, set­ting the stage for a fur­ther fall in elec­tric­ity prices.

Wa­ter in the dam has risen to 1,056.68 me­tres against a max­i­mum level of 1,056.50 me­tres. Ken­gen is dis­charg­ing 70 cu­bic me­tres per sec­ond.

Hy­dro-elec­tric dams along Tana River Basin have risen to a three year high fol­low­ing months of heavy rains.

This has helped dou­ble the share of hy­dro in the na­tional grid to 40 per cent, a rise that is ex­pected to cut the fuel levy in power bills fur­ther af­ter fall­ing to Sh4.95 per kilo­watt hour (kwh) in May from April’s Sh5.35 on re­duced use of ex­pen­sive diesel gen­er­a­tors.

On Tues­day, En­ergy Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Charles Keter urged res­i­dents of Garissa, Hola, Garsen and Bura to move to safer grounds af­ter an­nounc­ing the dam would start over­flow­ing once it fills to ca­pac­ity.

“Masinga is the big­gest dam. Al­ready there has been spilling in the other dams such as Ki­ambere. We will be ex­pect­ing Masinga to spill any time. This is an alert we are rais­ing,” Mr Keter said.

Masinga Dam feeds four other dams down­stream, which are al­ready full.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Keter, once Ki­ambere dam over­flows, the es­ti­ma­tion is that it will take four days for the cas­cad­ing wa­ter to reach Garissa town and then lower Tana Delta.

Two weeks ago, homes and farms were sub­merged by wa­ter, ren­der­ing a num­ber of fam­i­lies in Garissa and Tana River home­less.

The rising share of hy­dro power in the na­tional power grid is re­plac­ing the ex­pen­sive diesel-de­pen­dent ther­mal elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tors.

Hy­dro and geo­ther­mal power now ac­count for about 90 per cent of the power be­ing fed onto the grid, from 69.34 per cent in Feb­ru­ary.

At the same time, Ken­gen has been asked to con­struct canals and dams mid­stream that will di­vert flood wa­ters to avoid loss of hu­man life and prop­erty down­stream.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists, Kenya Live­stock Mar­ket­ing Coun­cil chair Du­bat Amey urged the com­pany to set aside part of the Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity kitty to con­struct canals and dams to avoid de­struc­tion that is be­ing wit­nessed from wa­ter spillage from the Seven Forks and now Masinga Dam.

“The canals will di­vert wa­ter in­land that can be used dur­ing dry spells for ir­ri­ga­tion, live­stock and do­mes­tic use,” he said.

His re­ac­tion comes a day af­ter the gov­ern­ment warned of mas­sive flood­ing af­ter the Masinga Dam, one of the largest in the coun­try, starts spilling over due to the on­go­ing heavy rains.

JOSEPH KANYI | NA­TION

Wa­ter flows from Masinga dam through the spill­way af­ter the dam over­flowed fol­low­ing heavy rains around Mt Kenya re­gion.

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