The City is legally required to ensure that the electricity distributed to all its customers complies with set quality standards. In order to do this we need to know where generation systems have been connected to the grid. Both current and previous versions of the Electricity Supply By-law have therefore required that generation equipment connected to the City’s network be authorised by the City’s electricity department.
Unauthorised PV systems can interfere with the quality of electricity supply, electricity demand management and future network planning. Connecting an SSEG system to the grid can also pose a safety risk to electricity maintenance staff as well as a fire risk to your household if done incorrectly. Furthermore, as homeowners are responsible for health and safety at their properties, future insurance claims may be jeopardised if unauthorised systems are operated.
As customers may not have been aware of the requirement to register and obtain authorisation for their SSEG, the City is allowing a grace period for existing systems to be registered and authorised as compliant with the by-law. The grace period for registration concludes on 28 February 2019.
Should a customer fail to register their system or demonstrate compliance with the by-law, they will be charged a R6425.90 service fee for the removal of unauthorised SSEG connection. Furthermore, the supply of electricity to properties with unregistered SSEG systems may be disconnected and will only be allowed to be reconnected once the City is satisfied that the SSEG system is either disconnected, decommissioned or authorised, and that the service fee has been paid.
This registration requirement applies to both grid-tied and off-grid solar PV systems but does not apply to solar water heaters.
To start the registration process, please visit www.capetown.gov.za/solarpv
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry
28 November 2018
The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry can understand why the Cape Town electricity department needs to know about rooftop solar panels that are tied to the grid but says there is no reason for the City’s heavy-handed approach and threat of huge fines.
“People who invest in solar tend to be informed and responsible citizens and they should be treated as such,” said Ms Janine Myburgh, President on the Chamber. “The City is not dealing with delinquents.”
Fines of more than R6 000 unless the panels were registered by the end of February were excessive and should not be necessary while the threat to disconnect supplies was ‘over the top’.
“It’s time the City learnt that incentives work better than fines. It should be carrots first and the stick only if the incentives don’t work.”
She said the City had initially adopted an enlightened approach to solar and understood that the whole electricity industry was changing. Its policy was based on keeping consumers tied to the grid because it did not want to lose them as customers.
“That was good thinking but now we have warnings and threats. It is bad public relations and it is likely to anger many people. The result will be that many people will decide to go off grid and the City will lose out,” Ms Myburgh said.
Batteries were improving and becoming more affordable while electric appliances were becoming more efficient. LED lights, for example, used half as much electricity as fluorescent tubes and about 10% of the old incandescent globes. People were increasingly turning to gas for cooking and heating. The result was that they used less electricity and going off grid had never been easier.
“People who use solar power are doing us all a favour because they make us less dependent on Eskom and that improves energy security for everyone,” Ms Myburgh said.
The fine was excessive just as the proposed charges for water during the drought had been. “It seems the City has learnt nothing from the angry reaction to its demands. Its answer to every problem seems to be to find new ways to extract money from its citizens. It is time it reversed this policy and found ways to reduce its own costs.”