Kenyans will no longer be given a detailed breakdown of their power bills after Kenya Power stopped giving customers details of individual pass-through costs.
Kenya Power has been issuing a detailed breakdown of pass-through costs when one purchases power through its prepaid system via a text message.
The SMS would show the amount of money spent by a customer, the units received, how much of the money would go towards actual energy bought and other costs including value added tax (VAT), fuel cost charge and forex charge.
Other costs that were included in the breakdown included rural electrification programme charge, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) charge, Water Resources Management Authority charge and inflation adjustment charge.
Kenya Power has, however, stopped sending this detailed breakdown to customers. Instead, the utility now shows customers only the amount spent, units received, token amount and the lump sum of all the pass-through costs under “other charges”.
This comes at a time when Kenyans on social media have directed anger at the utility over high electricity prices, especially over the huge pass-through costs.
The company said that the change comes after a survey in which respondents said they wanted a less detailed breakdown of their power bills.
“The change has been effected after numerous engagements with the public including a recent survey where our customers said they wanted a briefer statement of their electricity bills,” said Kenya Power. “Going forward we will no longer be including all the cost elements in the SMS. Customers can get additional details about their bills via *977#.”
Some customers have however read malice in the change and want the utility to go back to giving a detailed breakdown of the power bill cost elements.
Electricity prices have risen sharply owing to a biting drought that has reduced hydropower generation, forcing increased uptake of expensive thermal power when fuel prices remain high.
Data from Epra shows hydropower generation dropped sharply to 112.7 million units in February down from 184.68 million units in January. This marks the fifth consecutive monthly drop in generation of electricity from hydropower dams.
Hydro is Kenya’s second largest power source after geothermal. In the financial year to June 2022, Kenya Power bought 26.46 per cent of its electricity from hydro sources.
Epra last week raised the fuel cost charge to Sh8.3 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) up from Sh6.59 per unit last month. It is the highest rate of the fuel energy component since June 2012 when it hit a record Sh9.03/kWh. The regulator also raised the forex adjustment component to Sh2.16 per unit from Sh1.85 per unit last month due to the weakening of the shilling against the US dollar.
This has raised the unit cost of power for lifeline consumers to Sh22 per unit up from Sh20 last month.
The higher power prices are a further blow to consumers who are also suffering an increase in inflation. The rate of inflation climbed to 9.2 per cent in February, coming after it slowed for three consecutive months to hit 9 per cent in January.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ Consumer Price Index showed that in that month, food commodities contributed greatly to the high inflation. The high inflation dealt a heavily blow on businesses, which saw demand for goods and services shrink for the first time in six months, according to Stanbic Bank’s Purchasing Managers Index.