Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu’s report reveals a looming crisis that could jeopardize Kenya Power’s financial stability, despite the company experiencing a surge in electricity sales during its recent financial year. The risk of losing Sh1.8 billion arises due to unpaid electricity bills, totaling an alarming amount of Sh1,803,302,369 for the period ending in June 2023. Surprisingly, this situation involves no fewer than 729,732 customers who are yet to settle their outstanding payments and clear their accounts with Kenya Power, thereby avoiding potential legal complications or further financial strains imposed upon them due to their failure to do so.

The Auditor-General expresses concern about the management’s apparent lack of visible measures to reclaim the outstanding Sh1.8 billion. Despite issuing disconnection orders against these accounts, which still cast doubt on their recovery, the issue remains active and unresolved.

Kenya Power experienced significant growth in electricity sales, reaching 9,566 gigawatt hours from 9,163 for the financial year ending June 30, 2023. This surge resulted from a 5.9 percent increase in consumption within its commercial and industrial customer segments, driven by improved business activities. Managing Director Joseph Siror attributes the 21 percent revenue increase directly to both the enhanced sales trajectory and tariff adjustments.

To combat power theft and address unpaid electricity bills, Kenya Power is implementing a new metering plan. By December 2024, the utility will have deployed smart meters for large-power consumers. Within the next three years, specifically for domestic customers and small-to-medium enterprises consuming over 200 units of electricity per month, they will be placed on advanced metering infrastructure. Smart meters will facilitate all new connections in these categories.

Kenya Power’s strategy includes bulk metering for customers in informal settlements, enabling third parties to engage in retail. As part of a long-term plan, rural clients will shift from traditional postpaid meters to smart ones—an advancement promising increased efficiency and convenience. Retrofitting existing postpaid meters with prepaid alternatives is a project scheduled over the next three years, a proactive step towards modernizing rural areas’ electricity management systems. Transformers and feeders on the distribution side will undergo metering to facilitate energy balancing.

Kenya Power recently implemented a significant policy shift: it now assigns the responsibility of electricity payment to premises owners connected to the power grid. In line with this new approach, they have stopped providing multiple meters for housing unit blocks under single customer ownership. While applications for meter separation will not undergo processing, sub-metering is permissible.

Acting as the General Manager of Infrastructure Development at Kenya Power, Kennedy Ogalo emphasizes the singular objective of the new guidelines: to provide only one meter per plot for premises owned by an individual owner with multiple units. Subsequently, they will sub-meter supplies—yet it’s worth noting that this process remains entirely at the discretion of premises owners. However, the responsibility for paying the electricity bill always falls squarely on your shoulders.

Kenya Power, grappling with the persistent challenge of unpaid bills, strategically shifts its management of electricity consumption and revenue leaks through implementing a new metering plan. It confronts a dual task: maintaining financial sustainability while guaranteeing equitable access to electricity for an arrayed customer base.