Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) has disclosed the intricate steps taken by its technicians to reinstate electricity following a nationwide blackout lasting over twelve hours. On Saturday, August 26, KPLC reported that it confronted a loss of 270MW generation from the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant (LTWP). In response, their engineers swiftly activated alternate power sources, even seeking assistance from Uganda.
Despite reaching out to Uganda, they were unable to provide aid during the critical period, compelling Kenya Power to turn to the Seven Fork Hydro power stations in Thika. This resource was promptly harnessed to initiate the restoration process. Notably, incorporating the Seven Fork Hydropower solution proved to be more time-consuming compared to importing electricity from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).
Kenya Power also revealed that while importing electricity from Uganda would have been more efficient and convenient, it was not feasible during the crisis. Nonetheless, they extended a request to Uganda to contribute to ending the prolonged power outage.
“We are collaborating to reinstate the Uganda interconnector, which will significantly boost our grid recovery endeavors,” Kenya Power shared.
In a contingency strategy devised by managers, KPLC rapidly developed a framework to rectify the power system’s imbalances that had triggered shutdowns across primary generation units and stations, culminating in a complete grid blackout.
“While certain situations might lead to plant failures, our technical teams are analyzing data from protection relays to identify the root cause of the failure, which triggered a cascade failure of the system. At the time, the System Demand was 1855.8 MW, so the loss of approximately 15 percent of generation was expected to result in a widespread power outage,” clarified Kenya Power, explaining the blackout’s cause.
Following stabilization efforts, the engineers initiated the process of reestablishing the power supply, beginning as soon as the affected generation lines were isolated.
Subsequent to their efforts, Kenya Power’s technicians achieved positive outcomes, with most of the grid gradually being restored, starting from the Central and Eastern Regions where hydro generation is concentrated, and progressing towards Nairobi.
“As of 11:45 pm today, a substantial portion of the transmission grid had been reenergized, and regular power supply to customers was reinstated as generation was brought back online.”
Kenya Power additionally disclosed that they were in the final phases of incorporating power from the Olkaria complex, which houses the majority of the geothermal plants. This integration was expected to facilitate the restoration of power supply to areas such as Nairobi, Coast, Western, Central Rift, North Rift, and South Nyanza that were still without power.
“We extend our apologies to our valued customers for the inconvenience caused and express gratitude for their patience,” Kenya Power conveyed.
As of March 2023, Uganda was planning to link its grid with Kenya at Malaba, with DR Congo at Mpondwe, South Sudan at Nimule, and Tanzania at Mutukula. Uganda had progressed its power line to the Mirama Hills interconnection point by that time. However, the extension faced delays due to stalled construction of high-voltage overhead transmission lines in neighboring countries, including Kenya.
These extensions constituted part of the broader Eastern African Power Pool (EAPP), envisioning future linkages between diverse power grids, as outlined by Uganda’s Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary, Irene Pauline Batebe. Uganda was committed to exporting power on the condition that neighboring countries completed their evacuation projects.