A widespread blackout that plunged Kenya into darkness for over 12 hours has sparked a heated exchange of accusations between Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), the prominent power producer, and Kenya Power (KPLC), the national utility company.
The power outage, which occurred on Friday, prompted a blame game between the two entities, leaving the nation’s citizens and critical services in a state of uncertainty.
Kenya Power (KPLC) wasted no time in pointing fingers at the power supplier, alleging that LTWP was responsible for the disruption. KPLC asserted that its engineers were dispatched to the wind farm to investigate the root cause of the unprecedented blackout.
However, LTWP swiftly retaliated with a statement of its own, denying any direct involvement in the outage.
LTWP’s official statement countered the accusations, citing an automated system shutdown as a preventive measure against potential damages to the already strained national grid.
According to the statement, an overvoltage event within the national grid triggered the automatic halt in power generation at the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant. The company emphasized its commitment to grid stability and distanced itself from any responsibility for the power outage.
While LTWP cited grid overvoltage as the triggering factor for the power loss, it also acknowledged that at the time of the incident, its system had been contributing 270 Megawatts (MW) to the national grid.
The assertion was based on preliminary reports and analyses conducted by impartial industry stakeholders.
Despite LTWP’s explanation, Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir, alongside KPLC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Siror, held a joint press conference on Saturday to attribute blame to LTWP for the extensive power disruption.
Kenya Power released an official statement later that affirmed the cause of the nationwide blackout, citing the loss of 270MW generation at the Lake Turkana Wind Power Plant as the origin of the power failure.
The sudden power loss reportedly triggered an imbalance in the power system, causing other generation units and stations to trip and leading to a complete grid shutdown.
As the nation grappled with the repercussions of the prolonged blackout, the National Assembly’s Energy Committee took action by summoning Energy Cabinet Secretary Chirchir and KPLC’s Siror to appear before them the following week.
The committee aimed to gain insights into the events leading up to the power outage and the subsequent nationwide disruption.
In the midst of the ongoing investigation, the fallout from the blackout extended to critical sectors, including the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), where significant operational changes were implemented.
Responding to the crisis, Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen took decisive action by dismissing Alex Gitari, the Managing Director of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), and Fred Odawo, the General Manager of Project and Engineering Services.
Murkomen attributed the personnel changes to a series of mismanagement-related incidents that had negatively impacted KAA operations and staff morale.
In the reshuffle, Eng. Samuel Mwochache assumed the role previously held by Odawo, while Henry Ogoye, who had overseen KAA’s Corporate Planning, succeeded Gitari as the new Managing Director.
The move aimed to address the ongoing challenges faced by the Kenya Airports Authority and restore stability to the crucial transportation hub.