Kenya wind power project gets court approval

A Kenyan court has given approval to Gitson Energy to proceed with its 300-MW wind power project in Marsabit County, 540 kilometers north of the capital Nairobi, officials confirmed on Friday.

Gitson Energy CEO James Gitau said that the 300-MW project which the government regards as its ambition for clean and renewable energy and a symbol of its Vision 2030, will now proceed.

“Bubisa site in Marsabit has the best wind regime in Kenya and among the very best in the World. We shall now proceed with the project to its generation,” he said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The High Court in the coastal city of Mombasa gave an order on Wednesday to the Ministry of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to include the wind power project in the approved list of governments.

Gitson Energy, a Kenyan-Diaspora-owned energy company had applied and received approval to proceed with the project in Marsabit from the Ministry of Energy in 2010, but land gazettement issues delayed the project forcing the company to seek the court’s intervention which took five years.

The High Court Judge Lady Justice Pauline Nyamweya issued an order in the judgment compelling the Ministry of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to include Gitson Energy’s 300-MW wind energy project in the commission’s list of approved projects in line with the approval of February 2010 granted for the project in Bubisa, Marsabit.

The Court faulted the Ministry of Energy and ERC for attempting to apply the Public-Private Partnership law that was enacted in 2013 retrospectively.

The project ran into crosswinds at inception when the World Bank pulled out in 2012 as they said the power purchase agreement would make power too expensive for Kenyans in the long run.

The World Bank said the take-or-pay provisions in the power purchase agreement between the Kenya Power and Lighting Company and Lake Turkana Wind Power would be financially risky for Kenya Power.

The lawsuit by the local communities followed two years later over the lack of community participation in the land allocation process.

The ruling comes at a time when the government has started reforms to reduce the cost of electricity by renegotiating some electricity feed-in tariffs with Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

During the Kenya Power investors briefing on Tuesday, the Cabinet Secretary for Energy Monica Juma invited IPPs to start the process of renegotiating the tariffs to express their interest through the office of the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy.

“This administration is keen to engage with this process in an orderly and structured manner. I want at this point to note and thank the Independent Power Producers that have already approached me and expressed their readiness to engage,” Juma said.

The negotiations are also aimed at ending disparities in the pricing of tariffs among different IPPs.