The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the construction of the proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant after rejecting objections to the project by a community-based organization. The ERC says the environmental, technical and economic issues raised by Save Lamu have been addressed by the project proponents and the government. This approval was given through a Government gazette notice on 24th February 2017.

AMU power Company Limited. (APCL) proposes to develop a 1,050 MW coal power plant using super critical technology in the Kwasasi area of Kindi/Magogoni Sub County in Lamu County. APCL has awarded Power Construction of China (POWERCHINA) an Engineering, procurement and Construction (EPC) contract to design, build and operate the proposed power production plant. When the January 2015 National Energy and Petroleum Policy was drafted, coal was championed as an ‘affordable, competitive, reliable and easily accessible’ energy source. The government set out then to put in place a power generation capacity of 5000 MW by 2017. It was anticipated that coal would provide 2000 MW of this and 4500MW by 2030. This ambition has proved quite untenable and needless considering the lack of capacity to even absorb the current capacity of 2177MW.

The regulator has said the people affected by the project are not opposed to APLC being issued with a license. Their only concern was a fair relocation and compensation, which is being undertaken by the government in liaison with the project affected persons. ERC said all environmental concerns raised will be addressed as the project is implemented. APLC has a power purchase agreement with Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC). The power distributor will buy the coal-fired electricity at KES 7.7 per kilowatt hour.

Save Lamu and other organizations have argued that the project will pollute Lamu’s air, land and water, among other negative impacts. The mission of Save Lamu according to their website is to engage communities and stakeholders to ensure participatory decision-making so as to achieve sustainable and responsible development and preserve the environmental, social and cultural integrity of the Lamu community.

In the gazette ERC says ‘Pursuant to the provisions of section 28 (4), (5) and (6) of the Energy Act, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) notifies the general public that it has received an objection from Save Lamu Natural Justice to the issuance of an electric generation license to Amu Power Company Limited. The Commission received the objection on 6th December; 2016.’The commission has since disallowed the objection on the following basis.

Environmental concerns

The project affected persons (PAPs) did not object to the power plant being licensed. Their only concern was a fair relocation and compensation which is being undertaken by the Government in liaison with the PAPs.

All environmental issues were addressed in the Environmental Social Impact Assessment (issued by the National Environment and Management Authority) and effective mitigation measures proposed. When implemented, the concerns of the objector will be addressed.

Technical issues

The concern on the demand has been addressed by the Government in the Least Cost Power Development Plan (LCPDP) and by the developer through the technology adopted by the plant.

There is need for the country to diversify its sources of energy in order to have energy security and competitive energy prices.

The location of the plant is appropriate. The power plant will supply the Coast region with sufficient power and it will minimize the cost of transmission and significantly lower technical loses

Economic issues

The fuel price has been addressed in the power purchase agreement and the issue of livelihoods of the people of Lamu has been addressed in the environmental social impact assessment.

The cost of the project will be recovered through the tariff as contained in the power purchase agreement.

 

 This puts to rest at the moments the issues around this coal fired plant. Other concerns raised elsewhere and which don’t seem to go away just yet revolve around its suitability. The world is moving away from coal as a source of energy, this makes pundits question Kenya’s move to commission new plans while elsewhere coal plans are being decommissioned. Others question Kenya’s capacity to absorb the power that will be coming from such a large source considering the marginal growth seen in the last few years.

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