The government might be forced to shut down Masinga Dam

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By Fred Mulwa

The Masinga Hydroelectric Power Station is Kenya’s main producer of hydropower, which the country is heavily dependent on. Should the dam be closed, the government will be forced to generate more thermal power, which is more expensive as it consumes a lot of diesel.

This means the cost of production of electricity will increase and will be pushed to consumers, meaning higher electricity bills.

Energy CS Charles Keter yesterday blamed the drought that has ravaged the country since last year. He however said Kenyans will not have to pay more for electricity, as the country is still operating within the required range.

Last year, the dam was shut down twice following prolonged droughts. “We hope that in the next one or so months, it would rain so that we can build the water levels,” Keter said.

He spoke during an induction workshop of the National Assembly Energy committee in Mombasa. Masinga Dam straddles the border of Embu and Machakos counties. Other dams and hydroelectric power stations whose water levels have drastically dropped include Sondu Miriu, Sangoro and Kiambere.

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Kenya relies mostly on hydropower because it is cheaper to produce. “In Mombasa, we used to run 100 per cent on thermal. Right now we are doing 80MW of geothermal direct form Olkaria [power station]. But we are also connected to hydro from Kiambere,” Keter said. “So, the effect is, if it (water levels in the dam) goes down, we have to run Rabai [power station], which runs under diesel and Kipevu 1, 2 and 3.”

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