Sh15bn Kinangop wind farm succumbs to severe political headwinds

The wind farm was to be set up by Iberdrola Engineering, with GE providing 38 1.6MW wind turbines.
The wind farm was to be set up by Iberdrola Engineering, with GE providing 38 1.6MW wind turbines. PHOTO/REUTERS
Kinangop Wind Park’s plan to develop a Sh15 billion energy project in Nyandarua has been cancelled due to delays and hostilities from residents.

Kinangop wind farm was expected to add 60.8 megawatts (MW) to the national grid from 38 turbines, each of which has an output of 1.6MW.

Touted as the first major independent power producer (IPP) wind farm in the country, the facility was to be set up by Iberdrola Engineering, with General Electric (GE) providing 38 1.6MW wind turbines.

The wind farm project, whose groundbreaking was held early 2013, failed to take off following fierce opposition from local politicians and residents.

Led by Kinangop MP Stephen Kinyanjui, the residents have been opposing the project saying, among other things, that they were misled into signing oppressive contracts.

A total of 38 farmers had signed a 60-year lease with KWP, with each farmer being entitled to Sh100,000 every year. Some farmers had already been paid Sh500,000 for the first five-year term.

But as soon as KWP moved its equipment to the site, area residents stormed into the firm’s premises demanding higher compensation – disrupting a project that was set to come online in the middle of 2015.

Following months of negotiations, the project received local support after KWP promised the affected residents a series of goodies, including a Sh270 million fund for community projects in Kinangop and Naivasha.

KWP also agreed to start fresh negotiations with the affected households on a case by case basis. The company was to pay an additional Sh2 million to the farmers who were earlier paid Sh500,000.

But this deal was short-lived as the residents later took to the roads to complain about the future environmental impact from the plant.

Kinangop Wind Park chief executive James Wakaba on Monday said the firm had decided to cancel the project as the never-ending protests had created an unsafe environment for the team to implement the plan.

“Kinangop Wind Park regretfully announces that it is no longer in a position to construct and operate the 60.8MW Kinangop Wind Park project due to the ongoing impact of civil commotion,” he said.

Mr Wakaba said KWP could not assure any hope of further construction as a huge portion of the budget had been depleted due to the delays of the project.