West Kenya Sugar factory to double power generation capacity to feed sister company

KENYA – Kenya’s leading sugar miller, West Kenya Sugar Company is planning to set up a second power generator of 12MW, doubling its generation capacity to 24MW, to feed its sister company, Rail Paper Mills factory.

According to reports by Standard Media, the sugar miller uses waste cane fibre (bagasse) as fuel.

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This generation supplies the factory with a power demand of 5MW while the balance of 7MW being unutilized, which it plans to channel to the paper mill which has a current demand of 3.5MW.

To facilitate the transmission, the parent company of the sugar miller, Rai Group is seeking to put a 30 kilometre power line between the sugar factory in Kakamega County and its paper mill in Bungoma county, West of Kenya.

It will be among the first companies that take advantage of the recently enacted Energy Act 2019, which liberalises some aspects of the power industry such as the transmission and distribution of power.

“A plan is in progress at West Kenya Sugar factory to establish the interconnection to the national grid and subsequent purchase of power by the national up taker, Kenya Power.”

Rai Group

The company expects to spend Ksh331 million (US$3m) in setting the transmission line.

The company also has ongoing plans to expand the Rai Paper Mills factory that will increase demand to 14MW

“The power balance of 5MW after internal consumption will be exported to the national grid. A plan is in progress at West Kenya Sugar factory to establish the interconnection to the national grid and subsequent purchase of power by the national up taker, Kenya Power,” said the company.

The 66 kilovolt (kV) transmission line will cut across different parts of the two counties including roads and in some instances areas where Kenya Power already has transmission lines.

In an environmental impact report, ESIA, filed with the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) as the company seeks approvals, noted that it would be cautious to minimise the impact on the grid.

“The Proponent shall therefore engage and seek authority from the Kenya National Highway Authority (Kenha) to construct the line on the road reserve. Where the road reserve may not be adequate, permission shall be sought from adjacent landowners to grant right of way as may be necessary,” said the ESIA report

“Key among the measures to be undertaken is ensuring that the proposed line is on its own trace and adequately spaced with parallel KPLC grid lines, use of underground cables at crossings and clearly labelling all the poles of the proposed line.”

The firm noted that while the manufacturing sector’s access to cheap and affordable electricity is key driver for Kenya to achieve its dreams to be an industrialising country, high cost of power in the country had resulted in the sector being sluggish over the years.

“The high cost of inputs such as electricity has been a huge hindrance to the manufacturing sector,” said the firm.

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