Kenya Power takes back idle meters as shortage caused by tender wars bites

Electricity meters

Electricity meters at an apartment block.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Landlords and homeowners with electricity meters that have not been used for six months risk losing them after Kenya Power launched a repossession campaign to mop up the idle ones.

Kenya Power said it has a shortage of meters, attributed to tendering wars that have derailed the procurement of new ones.

The firm said some of its customers have non-vending and zero-vending meters, that is, installed meters that are vending little amounts of electricity and those that are entirely idle.

“As part of its normal business operations, Kenya Power is continuously reviewing its customer and asset database to identify ways of optimising its resources. One of the outcomes of this process is the recovery of meters that have been inactive for a period of six months, which we re-allocate to active customers to ensure that the business makes a return on all its assets,” said Kenya Power.

The company explained that customers whose meters have been repossessed can apply again when they need power supply. However, they will be expected to shoulder the cost of reconnection.

“Customers affected by the repossession can apply to have meters reconnected once they are ready to consume on a regular basis,” it said. 

The company has been battling local suppliers in court who have protested at the tough terms the firm introduced in its latest bid to procure meters worth Sh2 billion, delaying the process for months.

Four local firms – Smart Meters Technology Ltd, Shenzhen Star Instrument Company Ltd, Magnate Ventures Ltd, and Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd – took Kenya Power to court, arguing that it had placed limits on the tender that favoured foreign companies.

They said the requirement for a successful bidder to have a minimum of 15 years technical specifications experience in the manufacture of energy meters was unlawful and biased.

However, Kenya Power argued that the stringent requirements were aimed at ensuring that the company procures meters of high quality.

More than 500,000 new households and businesses were connected to electricity in the 12 months to June.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that Kenya Power connected 641,000 new customers to the national power grid in the year to June, raising demand for new meters.

The new connections have pushed the number of grid-connected customers to 8.91 million in June this year, up from 8.27 million in June last year.

Procurement disputes are not new to the company.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board last month cancelled the award of a multi-billion shilling tender to four firms for the supply of power cables and conductors in 10 lots after the firm locked out one bidder.

The firm had awarded Ms Conductors and Transformers Manufacturing Limited a Sh678.6 million tender to supply the material for Lot 6 and Ms Cable Connect Limited for lots 2,5,7,8, 9, and 10 valued at Sh1.39 billion.

Kenya Power also awarded Ms Green Hills Cable Company Limited a tender to supply cables and conductors at Sh548.9 million in Lot 3 and 4 and Ms Showan Limited for Lot 6 at a cost of Sh193.3 million.

The four firms were among 10 companies who bid for the Sh2.81 billion tender.

Kenya Power is also suffering a shortage of transformers after suppliers dragged it to court over similar concerns.

The firm has been repairing faulty transformers to plug the deficit as it fights the tender wars in court.

The company floated a tender to buy 2,144 new transformers to address the shortage.

The Court of Appeal last month gave the company a reprieve after it dismissed a suit by three local companies over another tender for Sh1.5 billion, paving the way for the firm to go ahead with the purchase of transformers.