Kenya Power Reaches Out to Uganda as Nationwide Blackout Escalates

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Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has shared intrinsic details of how its technicians worked around the clock to restore electricity after more than twelve hours of a nationwide blackout. 

Kenya Power, on Saturday, August 26, stated that after losing 270MW generation from Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant (LTWP), their engineers turned to alternative power sources, including reaching out to Uganda for help.

However, Uganda failed to offer help to Kenya in the hour of need, hence forcing Kenya Power to turn to Seven Fork Hydro power stations in Thika, which was immediately utilised to kick start the restoration exercise.

Kenya Power explained that onboarding Seven Fork Hydropower was an option that took much longer as compared to electricity import from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).

Kenya Power staff loading electricity poles on a truck on February 24, 2023.

Photo

KPLC

Kenya Power also revealed that the importation of electricity from Uganda would have been more efficient and convenient but was unavailable at the moment of crisis.

Nonetheless, it still reached out to Uganda to aid in ending the over 20-hour power outage. 

“We are jointly working on having the Uganda interconnector restored so as to enhance our grid recovery efforts,” Kenya Power revealed.

In the contingency plan that was put in place by the managers, Kenya Power quickly designed a framework that would stabilise the imbalance in the power system that also tripped all other main generation units and stations, leading to a total outage on the grid.

“While there are situations where a plant could trip, our technical teams are analyzing the data from the protection relays to establish the root cause of the trip, which caused a cascade failure of the system.

“The System Demand at the time was 1855.8 MW, and therefore, a loss of approximately 15 per cent of generation was expected to cause a widespread power outage,” Kenya Power explained the cause of the outage. 

After stabilisation, the engineers began the process of mobilising the restoration of the power supply, which commenced immediately after the lines carrying the affected generation were isolated.

Kenya Power technicians soon recorded positive results as most of the grid was sequentially restored from Central and Eastern Regions where the hydro generation is located and towards Nairobi.

“By 11.45 pm today, most of the transmission grid had been energized and normal power supply to customers restored as generation came on board.

Additionally, Kenya Power noted that it is in the final stages of onboarding power from the Olkaria complex, where most of the geothermal plants are located.

It explained that onboarding the Olkaria complex will allow the restoration of power supply to parts of Nairobi, Coast, Western, Central Rift, North Rift and South Nyanza that are still off supply.

“We apologise to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience caused and thank them for their patience,” Kenya Power noted. 

As of March 2023, Uganda planned to connect its grid to Kenya at Malaba, to DR Congo at Mpondwe, South Sudan at Nimule and Tanzania at Mutukula. Uganda had by then powered its line up to the Mirama Hills interconnection point. 

However, the extension was delayed owing to the stalled construction of high-voltage overhead transmission lines in the neighbouring countries, including Kenya. 

These extensions formed part of the wider Eastern African Power Pool Power (EAPP), a projection of the future linkages between various power grids, according to Uganda’s Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary Irene Pauline Batebe. 

Uganda committed to exporting power provided that the neighbouring countries complete their evacuation projects. 

Kenya Power technician fixing lines on a pole on February 15, 2023.

Photo

KPLC



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