Nakuru continues to lead in geothermal power production

Menengai Geothermal Power generating plant

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika today, Thursday, joined Deputy President H.E Rigathi Gachagua for the launch of the 35-MW Geothermal project at the Menengai Caldera.

The project that is being carried out the Globeleq Africa Ltd is part of the first phase of the wider Menengai Complex. Once complete, the project will run for 25 years supplying the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) with power under the Power Purchase Program. The project will, in turn, be receiving steam from the Geothermal Development Company under the Project Implementation and Steam Supply Agreement (PISSA).

The project is the second large-scale such program after the Ol’Karia one in the Great Rift Valley. It will reach commercial operationalisation in 2025 and is expected to create approximately 200 jobs for locals during the construction stage. Once complete, it will create 35 – 40 permanent and contractual jobs.

Over the years, the GDC company has had a huge economic and social impact on the local community through the provision of job opportunities. The company also gives business opportunities to local youth and women by allocating 30% of their procurement opportunities to them.

Additionally, GDC has helped improve health services at the Bahati Hospital through the donation of an ambulance and facility upgrade. The company has also sunk a borehole at the hospital that serves the surrounding community.

Access roads to the facility have been undergoing continuous improvement making easing mobility for locals and improving economic activities including agriculture.

Financing for the 35-MW geothermal project is by the Africa Development Bank, the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade & Development and Finnfund.

Why locals are opposed to GDC’s project

Residents of Ol-rongai and Kabazi wards of Rongai and Subukia constituencies respectively have opposed the proposed Phase 2 of Geothermal Development Company project at Tulbowmoi area.

The irate residents told National Environment Management Authority-NEMA that they are against the project due to numerous negative environmental impacts to them.

The locals led by Timothy Ng’etich cited air pollution, health hazards and displacement of over 30,000 locals as the main reason they are against the project.

They also GDC for coming up with Environmental Assessment Impact report which was submitted to NEMA yet there was no public participation.

“We are against this project for several reasons among them pollution, health hazards and displacement of people. We are not ready for such.

They spoke during a Friday meeting with a team from NEMA at Tulbowmoi primary school, Ol-rongai.

During the heated meeting chaired by Nakuru North Deputy County Commissioner Geoffrey Mayama on behalf of Nakuru County Commissioner Erastus Mbui, the locals voiced their opposition to a secret plan by GDC and Sosian energy Company to displace over 30,000 locals from their farms to pave way for exploration of geothermal in the area.

The locals had petitioned NEMA after an impact assessment report showed harmful effects of the planned activities.

Area leaders led by Kabazi MCA Dr.Peter Mbae, Rongai Politician Kibet Komen,Nominated MP Sammy Seroney and Subukia MP Samuel Gachobe also stood with the locals’ position that the project cannot go on.

MCA Mbae noted that the people of Menengai have suffered for many years with the GDC projects in the caldera hence they cannot allow more suffering.

He added that as leaders they cannot be compromised at the expense of the lives of the locals.

“The only thing as leaders we can do is to ensure the lives of our people are well taken care of. We cannot accept any project that has health hazards on the people and that is why we are saying no to this project” said Mbae.

Sentiments echoed by Komen who faulted GDC and Sosian Energy Company for not following the right procedure as far as the project is concerned.

He said the Geothermal Company has an apology to render to the people of Ol-rongai.

“We cannot participate in a public participation where GDC is a party. We have a great case with GDC and we want them to have a day with us and ask for forgiveness.

Subukia MP Samuel Gachobe on his part reiterated that no any day did GDC involve opinion leaders as well as locals in the proposed project.

“No opinion leader was invited and we cannot allow GDC to come and make our people suffer for the sake of project” said Gachobe.

Nominated MP Sammy Seroney warned GDC that if the law on public participation was not adhered to then he shall be launching a legal battle.

He refuted claims that there was an impact assessment study for the claimed proposed wells for exploration est.

“ The project should be subjected to public participation as required by the law failure to which the locals have a right to recall the same” he said.

GDC Regional Manager Paul Ngugi had a difficult time in addressing the locals who had made up their mind that the project will not go on due to the negative impacts it has to them.

It had to have the interventions of the National NEMA officials led by Marion Kioko from Environmental Assessment Impact Unit.

Ms Kioko assured the locals that their views had been noted in the minutes and that a report will be compiled either in support of the project or otherwise.

She was however quick to note that the Proposed Geothermal project is yet to be licensed as there are several steps before issuance of license.

“As NEMA we want to assure residents that the right procedure will be followed and from today’s meeting a report shall be compiled based on your views before action is taken” said Ms Kioko.

GDC boosts county’s effort in cushioning locals amidst COVID-19

Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has joined other corporates in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
The Geothermal Company on Tuesday donated food and non food items worth Sh1.3 Million towards  cushioning families living around Menengai,Nakuru county.
Speaking  when he flagged off the items at Nakuru County headquarters, Managing Director and CEO Eng.Jared Othieno said this will go a long way in addressing challenges faced by families during this COVID-19 pandemic.
While noting that Nakuru county is a significant Stakeholder,the GDC Managing Director said as a company they felt time is now for partnership in the fight.
“We are partnering with county during this critical time of COVID-19 pandemic.The donation will help cushion families at Menengai where we have our activities of Geothermal extraction” he said.
The donation include hand washing soaps,reusable masks and drums for water storage at homes.
GDC is also donating food to needy families in Menengai,Nakuru county.
The GDC Managing Director reiterating that cordial relationship with Communities is key during this difficult times.
On his part,Nakuru Deputy Governor Dr.Erick Korir- commending GDC for the gesture.
According to Dr.Korir,such partnership will boost the county’s program of cushioning residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts move to assess faultline effects in Nakuru

A team of geologists has commenced assessment exercise in an incident that led to the caving in of a section of John Momanyi Road in Shabaab,Nakuru.

This even as preliminary report indicated that the road is on a pre-existing faultline.

A section of Shabaab road that caved in.PHOTO/NGPU.

The faultline is traced from caldera to Nakuru.

Paul Ngugi from Geothermal Development Company says they will partner with the county government of Nakuru as well as Kengen during the exercise.

He noted that with the continued heavy rainpour the faults could be washed or moved leading to damages on the surface.

Ngugi however,assured that the team of experts will be working to assess the situation and preliminary assessment will be out in one week time.

“We shall partner with the county government to assess the situation and the report will be out for the next decision” said Ngugi.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui who visited the area in Shabaab was categorical that there is need to await the report from the experts.

Kinyanjui adding that once the report is out then there shall be mapping out the extend of the faultline and equally advice members of the public.

Be added that the developers on the affected areas will be notified for appropriate decisions.

“Ours is to await the report from the experts and then we shall do mapping out of the extend of the faultline and equally advice members of the public” said Kinyanjui.

The road will remain closed with Governor Kinyanjui calling on the residents to be cautious during the rainy season.

The county boss was accompanied by his Deputy Dr.Erick Korir who is also the acting CECM for roads among others.



Eng. Jared Othieno appointed the new GDC CEO

The newly appointed GDC CEO Eng. Jared Othieno.PHOTO/Courtesy GDC communication Team.

Eng. Jared Othieno has been appointed the new Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Geothermal Development Company-GDC.

According to a press statement from GDC signed by chairman John Njirani,the appointment takes effect on  19th April 2020.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of Geothermal Development Company (GDC), I wish to announce the appointment of Eng. Jared O. Othieno as the incoming Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of GDC” read part of the statement.

The move follows the expiry of the term of the outgoing Managing Director Eng. Johnson P. Ole Nchoe, who has served GDC in that position for a period of four (4) years.

Eng. Othieno who holds Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Nairobi, was selected from an initial field of sixty four (64) applicants.

He has served in various roles at Kenya Power & Lighting Company, where he began his career rising to become Acting Managing Director, a position he held for fifteen (15) months between July 2018 to October 2019.

The Geothermal Development Company Limited (GDC) is a wholly state-owned corporation established in 2008 to serve as a vehicle for driving accelerated development of geothermal resources in Kenya.

GDC’s primary role is that of conducting geothermal resources exploration and production drilling with a view to mitigating risks associated with geothermal energy development.

GDC’s long term objective is to become the national and regional expert in geothermal resource development and exploitation.


GDC reveals reason behind delays in power generation at Menengai Project

The Geothermal Development Company-GDC has done all that pertains it at Menengai Geothermal Plant towards generation of geothermal power.

However, Kenyans will have to wait for the clearance of three Independent Power Producers in order to realize power generation.

The three IPPs licensed by GDC include Orpower 22 Limited, Sosian Menengai Geothermal Power Limited (SMGPL) and Quantam East Africa Power Limited.

They will be required to tap and supply power to the national grid from the Menengai Geothermal Project.

This was revealed on Thursday when the Regional Development implementation coordination committee led by Rift valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya toured Menengai projects.

Addressing media at the Menengai Geothermal plant during the tour, GDC Central Rift Regional Manager Paul Ngugi admitted that despite GDC having played their part, there has been delays since the three IPPs are yet to be cleared to commence the production of geothermal power.

He however lauded the project’s model saying it will go a long way in ensuring public-private partnership in supporting government towards realization infrastructure capital.

According to GDC Central Rift Regional Manager, by May this year the power plants will be started and in the next 2 years the power plants will be operational.

“The model that we are suing here is new for Kenya but we believe in two years time the power plants will be operational” he said.

While revealing that GDC has been able to drill 59 wells and tested 26 for steam that can produce 105 megawatts, he noted that security matters has been a challenge on the side of the lenders.

He is however quick to point out that the paper works are at final stages with the Treasury before the real work starts with the IPPs.

“We’ve been working hard to get the steam which we now have for the 105 megawatts. For the last one year we have been working on all the paper works that the lenders need and once we finalize with Treasury then the works can commence” he said.

On her part Senior Director from President’s Delivery Unit for Rift Valley Ms Trufosa Awuor stating that the government is working to support the GDC project while ensuring value for money.

The officer from the President’s Delivery Unit assuring members of the public that the Unit will also ensure that there is smooth partnership between the private sector and the government to realize development across the country.

On the issue of the delay in the clearance of the Independent Power Producers, Senior Director from President’s Delivery Unit for Rift Valley noting that it is in order in that the office of the Attorney and Treasury have to scrutinize the contracts to ensure they will be beneficial to the citizens.

“We have had a sense of delay in power production but as you know these are private partners and therefore it is prudent that the office of the Attorney and Treasury takes time to scrutinize everything so that they don’t sign what will later bite us” she said.

Sentiments that were echoed by Rift valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya who stated that the Government is working to ensure all the mega projects are completed.

He added that the government is also on the watch out to ensure value for money during the whole process of the projects.

“The Government is committed towards ensuring that all the mega projects are completed and value for money seen” said Natembeya.

On Friday, the team will inspect projects in Loitokitok.

PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:GDC Central Rift Regional Manager Paul Ngugi(in a tie) and General Manager Geothermal Resource Development Cornel Ofwona(right) explain a point to Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya at the Menengai Geothermal Project on March 12,2020.

GDC on spot for denying locals jobs

Conflict is looming between Menengai’s Geothermal Development Company and area locals over job opportunities.

The locals claim the company has been neglecting them in terms of job opportunities and instead hiring people from outside the area.

Speaking to the press at Maili Kumi trading centre in Bahati Sub County after holding peaceful demonstrations over the same, the locals from Wanyororo majority of whom are jobless youths said the company has failed to recognize them.Led by George Mukera, they vowed not to relent until GDC steps in to address their grievances.

“Since GDC came to this place in 2009 has been giving us empty promises on jobs. We are here and we will not relent until the matter is addressed” he said.

Similar sentiments echoed by David Mwangi and John Thu-youth residing in Wanyororo the area that has been affected by the construction of the GDC company.

According to the duo, employment at GDC is based on how much money you have or even god fathers.They say they have been trying to reach out to the management to be considered for job positions but all in vain.

Their concern is how some individuals who are not residents have continued to get jobs from the Bahati based Geothermal Company leaving out locals.

The locals now viewing the company as an enemy since it does not bother about their interests through giving back to the society.

“Whatever is happening at GDC is shocking and we believe it has to do with corruption. We wonder who are these getting jobs yet as locals we are left out” they said.

Area MP Kimani Ngunjiri who later addressed media on the matter agreeing that indeed the company had failed to consider locals in issuing out jobs.He faulted the current GDC management for going against the interests of the locals.

The legislator calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in the matter and ensure that youths from Bahati and more so Wanyororo where GDC is based are able to benefit from the company.

“The current leadership at GDC has failed to listene to the interests of the locals.Yuths have no jobs yet we had previously agreed on how the matter can be solved. We call on President to intervene” said Ngunjiri.

Our attempts to get a comment from GDC was in vain as the communication department was unable to pick our calls.

The vocal legislator also re-visiting the issue where Wanyororo Farmers Limited are decrying the embezzlement of their funds through a law Firm that claimed would help address their grievances.

As per letter dated 29th August 2018, Ngunjiri has written to the DCI and DPP demanding that the matter be investigated and those found culpable to face the law.

This emanated from a court proceeding during the retired President Moi regime when Wanyororo Farmers Limited Property was sold illegally and the court ordered the parties to sort out the matter out of court.

The Wanyororo Farmers Limited was paid Ksh 97 million but the Lawyer according to the MP disappeared with the money.The Lawyer is said to have been released on Bond and is now free.The MP now wants the Chief Justice to step in an ensure justice for Wanyororo Famers Limited.

“This is a major corruption scandal because the law firm stole from the Wanyororo Famers Limited but the lawyer involved is walking free. We are telling CJ Maraga that we want justice and nothing more” said Ngunjiri.

PHOTO/Peter Check:Irate locals from Wanyororo,Bahati Sub county addressing media after holding peaceful demonstrations over what discrimination ffrom GDC.

Why Nakuru locals are up in arms against the Menengai geothermal project

More than 500 people living in Rongai and Subukia Sub Counties in Nakuru County have raised their concerns over the ongoing Geothermal Power project plan taking place at Menengai crater.

The locals say the project has been running without any public participation as required by the law adding that the project is posing environmental and health risk.

Speaking during a public participation programme at Olrongai Nakuru County the residents further showed discontent in how the Development Company is handling the matter after they failed to appear for the public participation meeting on grounds that the meeting was a security threat.

The residents now want the ministry of energy to intervene in the matter saying what they want is to have an open discussion with them instead of going to court and seeking an injunction which will stop the project itself.

PHOTO/Standard:Menengai geothermal project.

A boost to farmers as County partners with GDC to incorporate geothermal power in farming

Nakuru county Cec for Agriculture Dr.Emmaculate(right) and other leaders during a visit to GDC.

Farmers in Nakuru County have a reason to smile after the County’s Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has partnered with the Geothermal Development Company-GDC to fully incorporate geothermal power in farming.

GDC plans to drill more wells in the densely populated and farming areas such as Ol Rongai, Kwa Gitau, Rigogo, Boito, Ngata Farm, Menengai Station and Kabarak.

GDC Environment Manager Mr Gabriel Wetang’ula says the expansion will make it easy for the firm and partners to come up with more innovative ways of using steam from the wells.

He said that apart from the use of steam in the generation of electricity, geothermal can be used in heating greenhouses, milk pasteurization, laundry, leisure and recreation, among many other uses.

“The expansion will make it easy for the firm and partners to come up with more innovative ways of using steam from the wells” said Wetang’ula.

A fish pond at Menengai’s GDC.The steam is used to heat and create an artificial environment favorable to fish rearing.

Already, a number of geothermal direct use projects such as fish rearing, tomato and capsicum farming among others are running at the Menengai caldera site.

The steam is used to heat and create an artificial environment favorable to fish rearing and vegetable growing in greenhouses.

The geothermal heat boosts productivity by reducing on disease and pest invasions as well as conforms to internationally accepted regulations on carbon emission.

Nakuru County Cec for Agriculture Dr Immaculate Maina said the collaboration will see local farmers increase their yields and carry out viable value addition projects for their produce.

“The collaboration is paramount as it will see local farmers increase their yields and carry out viable value addition projects for their produce” said Dr.Emmaculate.

She noted that various cooperatives, especially in the dairy industry, have collapsed due to lack of cheap and reliable energy to pasteurize milk.

The two were speaking when they led a team of their respective organization’s top officials on a tour of the pilot projects.

GDC began drilling at Menengai caldera site in February 2011 and has so far sunk over 35 wells with a confirmed output of 167MW.

The County Government of Nakuru has petitioned the National Assembly seeking an amendment to the Energy Act so that Nakuru County can start benefiting from the geothermal resources.

The County is also pushing to see that all firms putting up investments in Nakuru County absorb a sizeable number of locals for employment opportunities on offer.

PHOTO/NGPU:A green house at the Menengai’s GDC site that is making direct use of geothermal water, using it to heat and water plants, to warm greenhouses, or to dry crops. Geothermal water is used mainly as a source of heat and moisture.

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