||A consortium of Chinese companies has been awarded a US $96m contract to complete the transmission line linking Lake Turkana Wind Power to the national grid by August 31st 2018; following the termination of a Spanish firm’s contract last year,
The firms, NARI Group Corporation and Power China Guizhou Engineering Company, have committed to pay a fine of US $10m per month should they fail to meet the August 31st deadline.
The 428km power line is 70% complete; this is according to Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) which Tuesday signed the contract with the Chinese companies. It had stopped following the termination of the contract with Spanish firm Isolux, August last year. It had been put under receivership over debt and liquidity challenges.
The line will evacuate the wind electricity from the Northern town of Marsabit to Suswa substation in Narok, the country’s main interchange for power from different sources. The developers of the Lake Turkana Wind Power have already fined Kenya US $57m for the delays of the high-voltage line.
According to the energy minister, further delays beyond June would attract a US $10m fine monthly to be absorbed by taxpayers through their power bills. Failure to connect the wind farm to the national grid had left the developers stranded with power, amid pressing cash needs such as loans repayment.
Ready for launch
According to Danish wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems, the supplier of the wind farm’s 365 turbines, the farm was ready for launch. However, it will be idle until the government installs the transmission line.
Construction of the power line started in November 2015 but was delayed by landowners’ compensation demands and last year’s termination of the Isolux contract.
The wind farm, the largest in Africa, with a capacity of 310MW, enough to power up to one million homes, was supposed to inject the first 50MW into the grid in October 2016 and the whole capacity by last July.
The Treasury allocated the US $ 57m in a September supplementary budget to be wired to Lake Turkana for last year’s delay and the fines will be recovered this year from consumers via monthly bills.
The Chinese contractors have been involved in other local works in Olkaria steam fields, Naivasha.