Drought hits Kenyan hydroelectric output, prices set to rise

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Drought in Kenya means the African country will have to generate more of its electricity using diesel due to a fall in hydroelectric power, with the energy ministry predicting a rise in prices between now and March.

Kenya’s government says the drought, which follows low rainfall during the October and November rainy season, has left at least 1.3 million people in need of food aid and driven down water levels in dams.

The Energy and Petroleum Ministry said water levels at dams at Sondu-Miriu and Masinga hydropower stations, which produce a total 100 megawatts (MW), were low, although it did not give specifics about the impact on generation. Around 820 MW of the energy supplied to the Kenyan grid is from hydropower.

“We have enough supply from geothermal and diesel driven power sources to cover what we may lose from the hydropower stations affected by the ongoing dry weather,” Energy Minister Charles Keter said in a statement.

Using diesel generators would likely lead to a fuel surcharge of a maximum of 3.52 shillings ($0.03)per kilowatt hour, an increase from 2.85 shillings, the ministry said, adding prices would likely fall in March when the next rains are due.

A domestic user consuming up to 50 kilowatt hours now pays 2.50 shillings per unit, while those who use between 51 and 1,500 kilowatt hours pay 11.62 shillings per unit.

Those using 50 kilowatt hours and below will not be subject to the extra fuel charge, the ministry said.

Kenya’s electricity generation capacity stands at about 2,341 megawatts, mostly from hydroelectric and geothermal sources.

Editing by Edmund Blair and Alexander Smith