By B.N. Frank
Some experts have insisted that the infrastructure and technology being used to build and operate wind farms are not biologically or environmentally safe (see 1, 2, 3). In Kenya, taxpayers have spent billions on a wind project that continues to not operate as promised.
From Energy Central:
The Loiyangalani wind project that became a living nightmare
It started like all the good plans do: a dream. The plan? To transform Kenya’s energy economy, make its power generation environmentally sustainable and position Kenya as a continental leader in wind energy. Sounds cool, right? Wrong.
The whole enterprise, from conception to execution, was crafted from the start to rob taxpayers of billions of shillings through phony contracts with the country’s power distributor.
This is the short but sad story of the Lake Turkana Wind Power project, Kenya’s biggest wind power project. Seventeen years since it was conceived, this shining piece of engineering in the Loiyangalani wilderness has become a source of unbearable pain to Kenyans through a series of decisions that read like the script of a horror movie.
Picture this: Lake Turkana Wind Power is a strategic contract that allows it to be in charge of hiring other key partners in delivering the mega power project; and the same contract allows it to claim handsome earnings in hefty penalties in case of any delays. The company goes looking for a company on the brink of bankruptcy to do the job. The hired company is given Sh10.8 billion to build a transmission line. Shortly afterwards it conveniently goes bankrupt, causing the project an expensive 21-month delay. The delay is music to the ears of the wind firm, which makes nearly Sh18.5 billion from generating no power.
What’s more, the company also makes Value Added Tax (VAT) claims of Sh2.7 billion. And the government pays on its behalf. A new company is contracted to finish the job, but it demands, and gets, an additional Sh3.1 billion. Then there are other accrued penalties of Sh1.7 billion slapped on the taxpayer by the new contractor, earning interest for every day not paid. In total, about Sh37 billion goes down the drain.
The icing on the cake? The company has committed no crime. No one is held accountable as Kenyans start paying for these mistakes, a decade later, through additional tariffs loaded on their monthly power bills.
The dream carrier was the Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP) company, a firm owned by at least seven local and multinational investors. It was also backed by solid lenders who handed it billions of shillings to actualise the dream. In return, they received an annual loan repayment of Sh8.5 billion from the project.
This was way before 2004, way before Kenya became a global powerhouse in geothermal generation. At that time, getting 300MW of wind power from the Loiyangalani desert was a dream come true.
But first, the wind company, whose board has been chaired by former Vision 2030 director-general Mugo Kibati, a man who had made his name marketing Kenya’s 30-year growth plan, needed land. Nowhere else showed more promise for the project than Loiyangalani in Marsabit County.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives.
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