A game changer energy project by the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company is expected to reposition Western Kenya as a major investment destination.
The Sh16b Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu high voltage transmission line is guaranteed to herald the birth of a new dawn in Western Kenya region where manufacturing, hospitality and domestic sectors have suffered serious fluctuations and unreliable electricity supply.
In an exclusive interview with Weekly Citizen, Ketraco CEO Fernandes Barasa pointed that the new geothermal plants can operate 24 hours a day with steady output regardless of environmental conditions and is the best option to arrest the historical unpredictability and embarrassing voltage swings.
The Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu transmission lines construction project is covered under Ketraco innovative obligation to extend the national power grid to every corner of the country in an ambitious projection to attain cumulative length of 16,100 by 2030.
“A number of grid stabilisation projects and extension lines are being put in place to ensure a continuous balance between supply and demand as well as taking care of the reserves that would be used in case of contingencies,’’ Barasa revealed.
He added the Western bound project is one of the major undertakings by Ketraco and entails construction of a double circuit transmission line between Olkaria 2 and Kisumu (Mamboleo) substations via Lessos substation.
Barasa said contraction of the transmission line that also covers 290km will play a pivotal role in the regional power pool upon its completion.
The line is expected to transmit clean, renewable energy generated from Olkaria thereby enabling a stable distribution of electricity power to Kenya’s Western region and allowing power interchange from and to Ugunda.
According to the CEO, the line evacuates reliable geothermal power which, a part from being associated with many environmental benefits brings along economic gains.
For the smooth implementation purposes, the project was categorised into three lots under different contractors and lot one involved the construction of approximately 213km 400kv double circuit transmission line between Olkarian II substation and Lessos substation.
Operations in lot two involved the construction of approximately 73.5km 220Kv double circuit transmission line between Lessos substation and the proposed new substation at Kisumu East and approximately 3.5km 132 KV double circuit transmission line between the proposed new substation at Kibos and Mamboleo.
Barasa added that Kenya has positioned herself in competition across the Africa continent where governments are focused on reducing the electricity generation deficit that has held back their economies.
The country has been a victim of unreliable, expensive and unsustainable energy due to ageing infrastructure that can no longer meet the modern-day requirements as envisaged in the country’s economic blueprint, Vision 2030.
Timely arrival of the project expected to be completed mid this year will also facilitate power exchange between Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Barasa expressed optimism that once completed, the sleeping region’s economic bases are set to grow to their full capacities due to the abundance of reliable, efficient and available power.
Some of the prominent sectors expected to be major beneficiaries of the project are the ailing sugar sector, hospitality industry, transport including the flagship port of Kisumu, aviation, cotton, fishing, mining, construction and health.