Utility firm Kenya Power will be forced to compensate consumers for losses incurred during power outages if a proposal by the Energy Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) is approved.
In the new regulations published on Tuesday, May 4, the regulator seeks to compel the power utility to compensate consumers for financial losses, equipment damage, physical injuries and death due to power outages.
According to the strict regulations that are, among others, meant to ensure consumers get value for their money, power should be interrupted for planned maintenance purposes and emergency cases only.
If the proposal is adopted, Kenya Power will be required to notify consumers at least two days prior to planned interruption.
“A distribution and retail supply licensee shall inform the consumer of the intended disconnection or interruption, and stipulate the date and intended duration of the disruption through appropriate means including public notices on print media, radio broadcasts, electronic mail and SMS,” the regulations read in part.
Kenya Power, is, however, allowed to discontinue power supply without notice in the case of emergency but is required to rectify the situation and advise its customers in a timely manner.
The management will also be required to file an assessment of power interruptions with EPRA on a monthly and annual basis including the average number of items any given customer experiences interruption over a period.
The tough rules require Kenya Power to file the average interruption duration for each customer served during the period under review.
Failure to achieve retail supply license guaranteed performance standards will round off to fines ranging from fines per violation to blanket annual penalties.
For many years, the loss-making company, which ironically enjoys a monopoly in the Kenyan market, has left businesses counting losses due to frequent power outages.
This has forced some business owners to purchase standby generators to keep their businesses running in case of blackouts.
However, not everyone can afford a generator and this has left small business owners to incur losses whenever there is a blackout.
Currently, the company offers compensation for injuries and damaged kits but does not compensate domestic and business customers for financial loss resulting from blackouts.
If Kenya adopts the model, it will join a list of European countries that have implemented the regulations.
“A licensee shall be liable to pay appropriate compensation to a person if due to failure, poor quality or irregularity of electricity supply, the person incurs damage to his or her property, financial loss, loss of life due to negligence or avoidable default by the licensee, provided that the breach is reported in writing within thirty days of the breach,” the draft regulations read.
“Where a licensee is to pay compensation to a person, the licensee shall, subject to these regulations pay the amount specified, or in kind, to the person within three months after determination of the claim.”
If the proposal sails through, a claimant will be required to apply for compensation in writing within twelve (12) months after they suffer a breach.
Affected customers will automatically lose their right to seek compensation in cases where they have tapped power illegally and when third parties like vandals, falling trees, cars or planes interfere with electricity networks.
A similar attempt, through a Bill, to compel Kenya Power to compensate consumers was rejected in 2015.