Lawmakers are going after Energy ministry officials who stopped Lake Turkana Wind Power from building a transmission line to evacuate from Marsabit wind park to the national grid.
Fresh details have emerged that LTWP was to construct a transmission line alongside the wind power plant to avoid cases of idle power generation.
However, state officials at the Ministry ordered the contract changed and the transmission line built by Kenya Electricity Transmission Company.
Energy Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa confirmed recently in a session in Parliament during a meeting with the Public Investments Committee.
“It is true that the line was to be done concurrently with the power plant. LTWP was to build the line, but it was removed from the responsibility,” the PS said.
The newly-posted PS said that a transmission line should be built alongside a power station for complementarities.
“The wind power plant and the line were to be completed at the same time in order to avoid idle power generation,” he said.
The question MPs want answered was the motivation behind introducing Ketraco into the privately-owned project.
“How was this project identified? How was it incubated? How was it concluded that there is a potential in that place (Marsabit)?” Mandera East MP Omar Mohamed asked.
It also emerged in the inquiry that the feasibility study that informed the project was yet to be traced.
Kihalangwa said he has not had a chance to see the study, despite calling for it several times.
“It could not be located at the headquarters. The regulator has said they don’t have it,” he said.
“Ketraco equally said they don’t have it. I am still looking forward to be provided with that document.”
MPs asked how the project of such a magnitude could be executed without an environmental impact assessment report.
“The officers should be on record that they don’t know how the project was identified,” Omar added.
Nassir said, “The investors claimed they got the need analysis…if you fail to get them, those who were there will take responsibility.”
The PIC probe further revealed that letters from the Attorney General certifying the project were only written so that deemed generated energy could be paid for.
Whereas project contracts, including PPPs, require Attorney General’s advisory, that of LTWP was dated in 2017, way after completion.
Nassir observed, “The Attorney General was given the contract when it was time to pay for deemed generated energy.”
Wajir East MP Rashid Amin added, “The letter by the AG was only to sanitise what the ministry officials were doing. The advisory should have been sought at the onset.”
PIC was told that the original plan was for LTWP to generate the power and feed it on the main electricity grid for Kenya Power to distribute under a Power Purchase Agreement reached with KP in January 2010.
But midway, government officials insisted on Ketraco building the transmission line and associate substation, which only went live in September 2018.
The agreement was amended in September 2011 and also a year later to protect the investor in the event of delays in construction of the transmission line.
LTWP CEO Phylip Leferink and adviser Rizwan Fazal told MPs that they were pulled off the transmission line project when they were already mobilising.
Documents tabled in Parliament reveal that LTWP plant was ready by January 27, 2017 but the transmission interconnector was delayed until 2018.
Tinderet MP Julius Melly questioned why the construction of transmission interconnector was removed from LTWP responsibility only for the government to pay billions of shillings every month.
“This was a well-choreographed scheme by ministry officials to take government resources,” Melly said.
A ministry official explained that LTWP was removed from the TI construction because the government received financing from the Spanish government.
“It was a government-to-government agreement. Ketraco was thereafter assigned to build the line but the company it contracted went under,” the Renewable Energy director said.
PIC chairman Abdullswamad Nassir said that “had there been no government interference, Kenyans would not be paying for power they never used.”
“Was there a viability report on what the country would save compared with the risk element we are now involved in?” he asked.
The question the Committee is grappling with is how the Spanish knew about the project to a point they had started discussing and even experimented capacity.
As a result of the delay, LTWP was entitled to payments for deemed generated energy from May 2017, having waived the period, starting January 2017 when it completed the line.
The government, as of July 31, 2019, paid Sh10.3 billion for the idle power LTWP generated before Ketraco completed the transmission line.
MPs are also questioning how the wind power firm was paid an excess of Sh789 million for the same.