In an effort to deliver clean, affordable and reliable electricity to drive the ‘Big 4’ agenda and support the realization of Vision 2030, Kenya Power has launched a Sh.340 million Live-Line Laboratory.
The laboratory, the first of its kind in East and Central Africa will be used to test and certify equipment that are used in the Live Line Maintenance Programme which the Company launched in October 2019.
Speaking yesterday, Kenya Power’s Acting Managing Director, Eng. Geoffery Muli, said the Live-Line technology enables the Company to carry out repairs and maintenance on high and medium voltage lines without switching off customers.
The laboratory, he said, was set up at a cost of Sh.340 million and was funded by the World Bank under the Kenya Electricity Modernization Project.
Muli noted that the money is part of a total of Sh.2 billion funding that the Company received from the World Bank towards the Live-Line Maintenance Project.
Apart from the laboratory, the Engineer revealed that the funding was also utilized to purchase Live-Line tools, equipment and insulated trucks as well as to train and certify staff to join the Live Line teams.
He highlighted that prior to establishment of the laboratory, the Company paid Sh.36 million annually to test the Live-Line equipment. Live-Line tools such as rubber gloves, link sticks, line hose tester and insulating blankets are required to be tested every six months or when need arises while the trucks are tested annually to ensure safety of staff using them.
“The laboratory will enable the company to test and certify Live Line work tools and equipment and realize savings in terms of payment for these services which were previously outsourced. Additionally, it will boost efficiency within the Live-Line Maintenance Programme as these services are now within our control,” said Muli.
He noted that apart from testing and certification of live line equipment and tools, the Company intends to expand the scope of the laboratory in the medium term to include insulation verification tests and certifications for other network equipment.
He stated that plans are also underway to get the laboratory accredited by the Kenya Accreditation Services, to enable it to test rubber insulating equipment for other organisations within the country and the region on a commercial basis.
“The laboratory will significantly contribute to the gains associated with the Live Line Programme such as reduction in unserved energy and improved customer satisfaction,” Muli said.
Through the Live-Line technology, new premium customers are being connected to the network without waiting for a shutdown which is a double gain in that the customers are brought on board as soon as they are ready and we are able to meet our service charter timelines for customer connections,” added Muli.
He said the Live Line team currently comprises 216 staff spread across all regions within the country and 35 trucks with the teams currently doing an average of 2,800 live work hours per month which translates into 36,600 live work hours annually.
The Engineer expounded that a typical 5-hour shutdown on a line carrying 200 Amps costs the Company Sh. 250,000 in lost opportunity to sell electricity. The 35 live line teams spread across the country are able to work on at least two locations in a week that would have required an outage resulting in a minimum saving on revenue loss of Shs.17.5 million per week and Shs.1 billion annually.