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Kenyan REA supports community hydro

Kenya ’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has begun upgrading community based mini hydro generation plants.
REA’s Chief Executive Officer Zachary Ayieko said on Thursday that enhancing of mini hydro power plants is expected to increase access to electricity for communities distant from the existing national grid.

Ayieko said the concept is being implemented in areas with potential for mini-hydro and solar power generation.

The objective is to combine community resources and stimulate local economic empowerment to help alleviate poverty in regions far away from the electricity grid,” said Ayieko.

He said the high cost of grid extension and connection costs 410 U.S. dollars for individuals and 240 dollars for businesses.

High electricity tariffs, recent dramatic rise in fuel prices as well as the prevalent poverty levels in the country make renewable energy the most cost efficient way of delivering affordable lighting to rural communities.

In order to reach all parts of the country, the government has set aside about 13 million dollars to fund power provision in areas that are far away from the national grid. In spearheading this initiative, the authority plans to install hybrid power projects in all off grid power stations constructed in Northern Kenya and parts of Coast,” said Ayieko.

REA is currently supporting communities that have set up mini- hydros power plants at Thiba Micro Power Project in Gichugu Constituency and Mutunguru United Mini Hydro Power Project in South Imenti both in central Kenya by providing financial support to upgrade their capacity and connect customers.

The Thiba project has 600 customers who are expected to increase to 2,000 following REA’s intervention.

The Mutunguru project has 1,200 registered members who are not yet connected to the supply.

The project currently supplies the Tea Buying Center in the area and with REA’s intervention, 300 households will be connected as well as four other Tea buying centers, a dispensary, a posho mill and a primary school.

The electricity produced from the renewable energy systems can be used to run small agro-processing and other commercial enterprises,” said Ayieko.

Additional information:
News date: 18/06/2011

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