Senate Rejects Tough Solar Switch Fines, Issues Alternative

Members of Senate in session at Parliament Building Nairobi on January 29, 2020.
  • The Senate Committee on Energy rejected stringent measures proposed by EPRA (Energy Regulatory Commission of Kenya) to curb the massive switch from government powered electricity to solar energy. 

    On Wednesday, December 9, the Senators argued that high licensing fees, education requirements and penalties imposed on technicians and contractors would slow down Kenya’s plan of adopting renewable energy solutions.

    They added that the move by EPRA was meant to protect major players in the energy sector and to allow the government to enjoy a monopoly in the industry. 

    The committee is not convinced with the (Energy) Ministry and the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) responses that these regulations are not meant to protect the interest of Kenya Power as a monopoly,†Chairman Ephraim Maina stated while addressing Energy Ministry and EPRA officials.

    Members of Senate in session at Parliament Building Nairobi on January 29, 2020.

    Nominated Senator Abshire Halako added that the move would affect the government’s plan to focus on renewable energy. Kenya has been recognised globally as a leading country in wind, solar and geothermal energy. 

    Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina offered alternatives to the stringent measures proposed by EPRA. He called for a free environment for all energy players and the installation of solar panels. 

    “Suspend all the application fees in these regulations if they are not out to protect government interests and promote monopoly as you (Energy officials) claim,” Olekina stated. 

    EPRA’s Draft Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2020 was raised to streamline the manufacture, importation, distribution, design, installation, testing, commissioning, maintenance and repair of solar systems in Kenya.

    Licenses would be offered at between Ksh 2,2250 and Ksh 6,000, valid for three years before renewal. The technicians and contractors would be required to obtain insurance policies for their licenses which range from Ksh 1 million to Ksh 10 million according to their respective license class. The license will be issued before they install, commission or repair solar systems.

    Penalties would be imposed for failure to renew licenses. Practising with an expired license would attract a penalty of Ksh 50,000 per day. 

    The stringent proposed regulation also includes a Ksh 10,000 fine if a contractor or technician delays renewing their license and Ksh 20,000 if they do not issue a completion certificate for a project or warranty for installation, is likely to slow down the uptake of solar energy solutions.

    Additionally, penalties on failure to provide data to EPRA or providing false data will range between Ksh 5,000 and Ksh 1 million. EPRA, however, clarified the proposals stating that they are a revision of the Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations 2012 and the laws aim to consolidate and improve in existing gains.

    “The Authority will hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations on Friday, December 11, 2020, with a view to receiving further comments on the regulations from the public. The comments received in this public hearing will be taken into account in the final regulations,” EPRA stated. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta launches Garissa Power Plant in Garissa County on Friday, December 13, 2019

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