PhotoA woman walks her child to school past high voltage electrical pylons on the outskirts of Kenya”s capital Nairobi, March 14, 2011.

NAIROBI – Kenyans will not be hit by electricity rationing or significant price rises, with diesel generation making up for a fall from drought-hit hydroelectric dams, the head of sole distributor Kenya Power said on Thursday.

State-run Kenya Meteorological Department said earlier this week that the East African nation is expected to receive poor rainfall in the main March to May rainy season, exacerbating an already acute drought.

While the severity of power interruptions has subsided over the years, many firms in Kenya still run stand-by generators to cater for disruptions, adding to their costs, which they say is an obstacle to investment.

Kenya’s energy ministry said in January the country would have to generate more electricity using diesel due to a shortfall in hydroelectric power, and forecast a rise in prices between then and March.

“Even with the hydrological conditions that we are experiencing at the moment, we do not foresee any possibility of carrying out power rationing,” Ken Tarus, Kenya Power’s acting chief executive officer, told a news conference.

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

Tarus said it is not Kenya Power’s decision whether tariffs would rise further due to the extra use of diesel generators, but said the effect is expected to be minimal.

In January, the energy ministry said using diesel generators would likely lead to a fuel surcharge of a maximum of 3.52 Kenyan shillings ($0.0340) per kilowatt hour, an increase from 2.85 shillings, but added that prices were likely to fall in March when the rains came.

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 are not subject to the extra fuel charge.

($1 = 103.5500 Kenyan shillings)

(Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and Alexander Smith)

Source: Reuters

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