Kenya Power CEO Gives 3 Reasons Behind Power Blackouts During Rains

Kenya Power Chief Executive Officer Joseph Siror has explained the frequent power blackouts Kenyans experience during the rainy seasons. 

In an interview with Citizen TV on Tuesday, Siror revealed that heavy downpours are likely to cause a disturbance on the power distribution lines, leading to short circuits.

For instance, a short circuit may be caused by stormy rains swaying trees or power lines, bringing them into contact. 

“When it rains heavily, it can cause trees to fall on the line, and it causes a short circuit, thereby causing a disturbance on the network,” Siror explained.

“Sometimes rains are accompanied by strong winds which have an effect on the conductors and cause a disturbance.”

The CEO further noted that strong surface runoff water can also destabilise power poles during heavy rainfall. 

“Rain does a number of things. There is the aspect of lightning which is part of the factors but in certain installations like the poles and pylons and we have a situation where during heavy rains, some of them are washed away,” he added.

Siror was addressing concerns raised by Kenyans who discovered over the years that at the onset of rains, several areas experience power blackouts, some of which last longer than the rainy period. So dire is the situation that it is predictable.

According to the US National Institute of Health (NIH), lightning is also a major factor in power outages as ‘the transient high voltages may cause flashover on the electrical equipment on the power line.’

Lightning intercepts line conductors, towers or shielding wires, with the tallest being affected the most.

“The probability of direct strike in a given region increases with line height, thus, high voltage (HV) lines may be subject to direct strikes more than the medium voltage (MV) or low voltage (LV) lines,” the NIH explained.

“When lightning strikes the ground or any object close to a line, the electromagnetic fields will propagate in all directions. The inductive and capacitive coupling of such electromagnetic fields with conducting wires induce voltage impulses in the power system.”

According to Kenya Power, South Nyanza and western regions are more prone to lighting incidents.

To prevent these occurrences, the company has installed surge diverters to redirect excess charge to the ground and safeguard equipment and customer appliances from damage.

During the interview, Siror attributed high power costs to external factors, adding that the utility company does not impose electricity charges as perceived by consumers. According to the CEO, Kenya Power awaits directives from the energy regulator, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).

“The tariff that is being used right now is what was approved by the regulator. No tariff is applied without approval from the regulator,” he explained, clarifying the increase in electricity charges. 

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