The High Court has temporarily stopped Kenya Power and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from recovering backdated bills amounting to Sh10.1 billion.
Justice Enock Mwita further directed the suit filed by consumer body and a city lawyer be heard on January 30.
Lawyer Apollo Mboya and the Electricity Consumers Society Of Kenya moved to court to stop Kenya power from estimating bills and recovering sh8.1 billion from users for power the State utility firm says was not fully billed to homes and business.
They claim that Kenya Power has admitted passing to electricity consumers costs incurred on diesel generation in the year 2017, an act they say is unlawful.
“The…respondent to stop and cease the billing of electricity consumers with inflated backdated electricity bills to recover Sh10.1 billion contained in their annual report and financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2017 until January 30, 2018,” ordered Justice Mwita Friday.
The petitioners are also seeking to have Kenya Power ordered to refund electricity payments by customers made in excess of actual meter readings and/or on account of recovery of the Sh10.1 billion itemised in its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ending June 30, 2017.
“THAT pending the hearing and determination of this Application and Petition, this Honourable Court be pleased to issue an Order directed to the 1st Respondent to stop and cease disconnecting electricity based on the failure to honour inflated backdated electricity bills and estimated electricity bills,” reads one of the orders sought by the petitioners.
The Attorney General, Auditor General and regulator ERC are also listed as respondents.
They have further taken issue with the president’s directive on November 28 to provide electricity to manufacturers at 50 per cent discount during the low peak period between 10pm-6am with effect from December 1.
They claim the move is discriminatory against other consumers who do not benefit from this discount.
Kenya Power revealed the hefty bill in its annual report, explaining that costly power due to increased uptake of expensive diesel-generated electricity was not fully billed to homes and businesses between last February and August.
This action was taken to keep a lid on rising power prices in an election year.
The Sh10.1 billion bill was identified as unrecovered power fuel costs in utility firm’s annual statement for the year ended June 2017.
About Sh2 billion has been recovered so far, leaving out Sh8.1 billion that will be passed on to consumers in monthly invoices.
The competition watchdog has also announced it has started investigating Kenya Power for overcharging electricity consumers.