06 March 2014, Nairobi – Kenyan contractors and property developers who fail to install solar water heating systems on buildings that use more than 100 litres of hot water a day risk jail terms and fines under new rules laid down by the country’s energy sector regulator.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has warned developers and contractors that they must comply with energy regulations published in May 2012 on solar water heating, or risk the penalties, which aim to cut the use of non-renewable energy.
“Any person who fails to comply with regulations of the ERC on water heating systems commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a conviction of Kenya shilling 1 million (about $12,000) or to imprisonment for a term of one year, or to both”, said a media notice signed by the ERC’s Director-General Kaburu Mwirichia.
The regulations have until now been largely ignored by construction industry, which compelled the ERC to publish a notice on its intent to enforce them.
The rules also bar any electric power distributor from supplying electricity to premises that have not been fitted with a solar water heating system, under threat of similar sanctions.
The ERC says that only contractors and technicians it has licensed can install solar systems, and that they must comply with approved standards.
Enforcement of the rules will begin immediately on all buildings under construction, while buildings constructed before 2012 also must be retrofitted with solar heating by May 2017, when a five-year grace period will expire.
Those affected by the regulations include hotels, schools, homes, airports, government buildings and factories.
According to Joseph Kariuki, a contractor and director of Wabere Construction in Nairobi, builders have avoided mentioning the rules to developers and other clients fear of increasing the costs of construction.
“Many contractors fear overloading their clients with too many costs on top of the main construction work, but the rules will have to be complied with anyway, so lately builders are reminding clients of dangers of ignoring this rule,” Kariuki said in an interview.