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ERC licence delay hits planned Sh200bn coal plant

Source: Business Daily Africa

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has rejected the application for a power generation license for the Sh200 billion coal plant that was set to be set up at the Kwasasi area in Lamu.

The regulatory body has halted the licencing process until objections to establishment of the plant from an environmental lobby and the local community are heard and determined.

In a letter dated November 7 sent to the Chief Operations Officer of Amu power Company – the consortium that won the tender to build the plant – and copied to Natural Justice (Save Lamu) and the County government by the ERC’s Director general Joseph Ng’ang’a, the commission acknowledged receiving a letter from Natural Justice objecting to granting the licence to the power generation firm on October 28.

In the letter, the ERC notes that Amu power in its application failed to provide all the required material and that the conditions attached to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) license from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) were not included.

Pursuant to regulations 8 to 10 of the Energy (Electricity Licensing) Regulations, 2012, the ERC says it intends to hold a public hearing to listen to objections on November 24 at an unspecified venue.

The move by ERC to put the project on hold comes just days after a coalition of 35 Lamu community groups launched complaints at the National Environmental Tribunal (NET) to challenge the decision by NEMA to grant the Lamu Coal Power plant a project license.

According to Save Lamu Secretary General Mr Walid Ahmed, most residents in the county are unclear about the project’s merits and demerits.

Mr Walid lauded the ERC for putting the project on hold until residents are given enough time to go through the environmental impact report that was released three months ago and give their views.

He also claims the Amu Power Company and NEMA officials broke the law by trying to force the project establishment in Lamu.

“So far there is no resettlement action plan for those who were going to be displaced by the project. In addition, the EIA report has not properly analysed the impact of marine life. We need the investors to come up with alternative ways of generating power which are friendly to the environment and not coal,” said Mr Walid.

Lamu Women Representative Ms Shakila Abdalla, who has been against establishment of the facility, said the move by the ERC is timely as the project risked wiping out the entire ocean and land ecosystem.

“Why is the government keen to implement something that every other country in the world is against? We want an alternative way of generating energy rather than coal. Let them establish the coal plant in other places and not in Lamu,” said Ms Shakila.

The project by the Amu Power Company, a consortium of two co-sponsors – Gulf Energy and Centum investment – is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts of electricity upon completion.

The purpose of the project is to provide affordable electricity in the face of increased demand from proposed industrial parks, the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor (Lapsset), the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and other projects.