Kenya’s energy sector regulator has rebranded promising better service delivery with an expanded mandate.
Following the enactment of the Energy Act 2019 and the Petroleum Act 2019, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will now be known as the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA).
EPRA’s Director General, Pavel Oimeke, says that the Authority now has the expanded mandate to supervise and regulate upstream petroleum operations.
These functions were previously managed by the Ministry of Energy.
“As we pursue our dream of becoming a world class energy regulator, we will as we have done in the past – continue to seek ways of realizing energy efficiency in our homes, businesses and the economy. We want to promote the freedom of choice for energy consumers as well as innovations that will unleash our energy abundance,” said Oimeke.
The rebranding is meant to align with the Energy Act 2019 after the Presidential assent of the Energy Act 2019 and the Petroleum Act 2019 on 12th March 2019.
In the Authority’s expanded mandate, EPRA will also regulate the exploration, production, processing, transportation, storage, importation and sale of coal bed methane gas and other energy forms.
Corruption in the energy sector
Despite the unfettered corruption in the energy sector especially at Kenya Power, Oimeke and Energy CS Charles Keter failed to assure Kenyans that the rampant vice will be eradicated.
Recently, Kenya Power has been under sustained pressure to refund billions illegally taken from Kenyans through a billing scandal that has taken root at the company.
To try assuage Kenyans, the power utility monopoly Kenya is pushing a campaign to ostensibly make aware the public regarding fraudsters.
The company says that it has stepped up public awareness campaigns to raise awareness on the billing processes and combating fraud.
Billing has been a thorn in the flesh for the company which is facing a class action suit by Kenyans who are against its billing malpractices.
With the #SwitchOffKPLC campaign gaining momentum, the company is seemingly trying to clean up its act albeit missing the point as Kenyan.
The campaign organisers have accused the Oimeke-led EPRA of failing in its mandate to ensure that Kenyans have affordable power regardless of status.
In the LPG sub-sector, EPRA says that its new regulations are due to ‘increased public safety concerns.
However, many feel that the Authority is killing small business while monopolising the LPG market for the big players in the sector.
There are fears that with the new regulations, there will be a cooking gas shortage since the pooling system has been abolished.
Is your cooking gas genuine?
Among the responsibilities that the defunct ERC led by Oimeke seems to have failed on include the ease of identifying legit cooking gas by Kenyans.
Despite the deaths, maiming and loss of property occasioned by explosions caused by faulty cylinders, ERC had not given Kenyans a way of authenticating their LPG cylinders.
Additionally, there was no clarity on who owned the cylinders and what the legal recourse was in case of death caused by the cylinders.
It remains to be seen if the Authority will get down to work and redeem itself or if the rebrand is just cosmetic.