Investors Want Lamu Coal Plant Halted, Cite Adverse Environmental Effects

Lamu residents demonstrate against the construction of the coal plant. PHOTO/ COURTESY

A group of 56 institutional and individual investors representing nearly Ksh71.3 trillion ($713 billion) in assets sent a letter to General Electric (GE) calling on the company to reconsider its recent decision to acquire a 20% stake in Kenya’s proposed Lamu coal plant.

The investors state that starting the coal plant will negatively impact human health as coal production releases toxic pollution into the air and leaves behind ash that can contaminate groundwater supplies.

“Tremendous amounts of water will be needed for cooling processes, and waters discharged back into ecosystems at higher temperatures will damage marine ecosystems. This will harm the livelihoods of the fisherman, craftsmen and builders that depend on the marine life, mangroves and coral,” reads the letter.

The investors argue that the plant will be against both the domestic law and the Paris Agreement, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, starting in the year 2020. “Plans to move forward with Amu Power’s Lamu coal plant are at odds with GE’s public positioning on climate change and the company’s stated support of the 2015 Paris Agreement.”

“We are alarmed by apparent risks involved with the coal plant’s construction and operations in Lamu, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The proposed plant is in conflict with Kenyan domestic laws, as Articles of its Constitution explicitly protect biodiversity and the rights of its citizens to a healthy environment and safe water,” said the investors.

The investors predicts that the plant will affect not only Lamu, but all Kenyans as its construction and operation will cause an increase in electricity rates for everyone. According to them, Amu Power has been misleadingly marketing the price of electricity from the plant as $0.078/kWh (Ksh7.8/kWh), while outside analysts calculate that the price of electricity from the plant will range from $0.11 to $0.26/kWh (Ksh11 to Ksh26/kWh) depending on the capacity factor.

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In May 2016, four US Senators wrote a letter to African Development Bank (AfDB), asking it not to finance the project.

Jeffrey Merkley, Brian Schatz, Bernard Sanders and Edward Markey protested against the establishment of the coal plant in Lamu, citing its dangers and Kenya’s progress in environmental conservation.

They warned that the plant will tarnish Kenya’s reputation as a leader in clean energy and worsen environmental quality through millions of tonnes in annual carbondioxide emissions.

In the letter, they noted that the proposed 1,050MW plant will emit as much as 8.8 megatonnes of carbondioxide per year.

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Written by Francis Muli

Follow me on Twitter @francismuli_. Email

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