Kenya Power will build 98 new sub-stations to reduce supply disruptions that have hurt its relationship with businesses and households, the company said.
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The construction of the first 36 substations is already under way after contractors were awarded tenders valued at Sh10.45 billion ($109 million) in February. The tendering of another 29 units is to be concluded by July while the construction of the remaining 33 sub-stations is set for early next year.
Kenya Power chief executive officer Ben Chumo said new low-voltage distribution lines will also be installed from the new sub-stations to customers' premises.
"We expect to have the new 98 substations by June next year," Dr Chumo told the Business Daily without disclosing the total cost of the project which is partly being financed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (Afdb).
The listed electricity distributor has been under pressure to improve power supply following numerous breakdowns of its ageing infrastructure in the past, especially during heavy rains.
The unreliable supply has forced manufacturers to install stand-by generators, translating to higher costs of production that are eventually passed to consumers.
Chumo said he was hopeful that the additional sub-stations and power lines would not only boost supply, but reduce system losses and increase capacity for connection of new customers. About 3.1 million electricity users are currently connected to the national grid.
Substations convert electricity coming from plants through high voltage transmission lines– 120 kilovolts (kV) or above– to lower voltage for distribution to homes and industries.
Kenya Power constructs voltage lines under 220kV while those above fall within the mandate of the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco). The first 36 substations will be located in 23 counties including those in Rift Valley, Central, Coast and Western parts of Kenya.
The construction of the new substations is part of the Kenya electricity modernisation project (KEMP) aimed at boosting efficiency in the power sector. The construction runs parallel to the ongoing projects aimed at adding 5,000 megawatts to the national grid by 2017. ■
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