Power meter purchase delay frustrates customers
Delays in purchasing electricity meters have left Kenya Power’s new customers with a wait to connect to the power grid even after paying for the connections.
Customers who spoke to business daily said they had been waiting for the gadgets since March, derailing their businesses and forcing homes to turn to other energy sources such as generators and solar panels as a stopgap measure.
The electric utility admitted to the supply problems, blaming them on delays caused by court cases and pending approval of supply plans.
The shortage has hampered the company’s efforts to expand its customer base and increase sales amid growing numbers of customers switching to alternative energy sources deemed less expensive compared to the national grid.
“We repaired and refurbished faulty meters to meet customer demand. While this has helped ease the short term pressure, we are now facing a meter shortage which is affecting our ability to connect new customers,” Kenya Power said.
The company, however, did not disclose the number of businesses and homes that still need to be connected due to meter shortages. Since last year, customers have been complaining about connection delays.
Kenya Power is embroiled in legal proceedings that have derailed a 2 billion shillings tender to buy meters after local companies protested what they said were discriminatory requirements that barred them of the lucrative deal.
In June, the company was barred from proceeding with the tender by the High Court, pending a decision on the case.
“Kenya Power has experienced a delay in procuring new meters due to a number of cases that have been mounted by various players challenging the tender for the meters,” the utility company said.
Local meter assemblers under the Energy Meters Assemblers & Manufacturers Association went to court after the Procurement Administrative Review dismissed their petition on the grounds that it was filed after the expiry of the agreed period.
They lamented that Kenya Power’s decision to invite only international companies for the supply of single phase, three phase postpaid and prepaid meters is discriminatory.
Local businesses, which have supplied the meters for the past seven years in particular, have disputed the tender’s requirements that suppliers in the 2 billion shillings tender must have been in practice for at least 15 years.
Meanwhile, Kenya Power added 317,296 customers in the six months to December, increasing its customer base to 8.59 million and helping boost power sales.