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New rules boost renewable energy

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Cabinet Secretary in charge of Energy and Petroleum, Davis Chirchir during a past event on September 14, 2023.  

Photo credit: File | Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

Households and businesses that generate renewable energy for their own use have been handed a major boost after the State approved the net metering regulations, which will allow them to feed their excess power to the grid and offset their bills.

Through the regulations, prosumers—customers who generate their own power but also buy from the grid—will be connected to the national power grid through a meter that will record the quantity of power they have bought and sold to Kenya Power.

This is a major win for those who have renewable energy installations such as solar systems but lack enough batteries to store excess power generated during the day. In essence, they will now be using the grid to store their excess power.

However, they will not be paid for the power they supply to the grid, according to the draft net metering regulations that were published in 2022. This means that any excess power that they sell to Kenya Power will be offset from their future bills for the power they buy.

This provision was put in the regulations to protect the utility from spending billions of shillings to pay for the renewable energy fed into the grid, considering that thousands of firms and households are switching to own power generation.

“I approved the regulations before I left for Paris for the Heads of State Global Summit on Clean Energy this month,” said Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir on Monday. “The regulations will be gazetted on Friday.”

Under the system, customers will feed back electricity to the grid using the existing Kenya Power lines that supply power to their homes or businesses. This will be facilitated by a grid-tied inverter.

“Prosumers shall be obliged to pay the licensee’s interconnection costs associated with their installation,” the draft regulations state.

The power produced by customers will be sold to Kenya Power at the same tariffs it uses to bill consumers.

“A licensee shall provide to prosumers electricity services at non-discriminatory rates that are identical, with respect to rate structure, retail rate components, and any monthly charges, to rates approved by the (Energy and Petroleum Regulatory)Authority for the applicable tariff control period,” the draft states.

Manufacturers had particularly lobbied the government to approve the net metering regulations after years of delay, which has denied them millions of shillings in energy savings.