Investing in your own Photo Voltaic (PV) or wind renewable energy generation will protect you from ESKOM’s load shedding AND its escalating electricity tariffs. Several local authorities have registration and feed in tariffs in place for commercial and residential clients. This requires a registration process for Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) systems. However, many home owners either don’t know or are unsure of the legal requirements. The City of Cape Town (CoCT) is determined to regulate ALL renewable energy systems. Registration of SSEG installations, irrespective of whether these are grid-tied, or off-grid is not only a City-requirement, but the city is compelled to report these to NERSA. A temporary moratorium has been set and clients are encouraged to register their installations without fear of reprisal. Client’s that have a non-compliant grid-tied SSEG installation would either have to make it compliant or change it to an off-grid system.
In correspondence to city customers dated 2 July 2018 the City threatens punitive action for non-registration of SSEG systems. “After the grace period, the City will be implementing a R6,425.90 service fee for the disconnection of unauthorised SSEG connections. The supply of electricity to the property in question may be disconnected and only reconnected once the City is satisfied that the SSEG system is either disconnected, decommissioned or authorised and that the service fee has been paid. Customers registering their system during the grace period may continue to operate the system.” … “Systems that have registered for authorisation during the grace period have until the 1st of September 2019 to receive written authorisation from the City.”
A prime CoCT concern is the risk of electric shock to city maintenance technicians caused by residential properties feeding illegally into the grid without the required safety mechanisms to provide protection when the local grid is switched off. In addition, as the uptake of SSEG increases, the city distribution system will need to be designed and managed to receive as well as distribute electricity.
Registering your Off- Grid PV ( Photo Voltaic) system will not result in an additional tariff.
Many home owners with SSEG systems have expressed concerns that registration will result in them being charged an additional tariff. This is a misconception. Residential property owners are already being charged a service or availability fee to pay for maintenance of the city’s grid, as follows:
1 All residential property owners with a property rates value of over R1 million pay an electricity service fee of R130.44. (R150.00 with VAT) per month on their rates account.
2 All residential properties with a registered and approved SSEG system that feeds in surplus electricity to the City grid pay a service fee of R14.21 per day with VAT (R426.30 per month) on their rates account. This is instead of and not in addition to the standard residential service fee. Note that while the service fee is higher, the consumption charge per kWh of electricity is cheaper than the Home User Tariff for consumption below 600kWhs.
The city intends to adjust the electricity service fees for residential properties with and without SSEG systems over the next few years until they cost the same. Essentially these fees are for the use of the grid and should be comparable.
Emergency equipment such as UPSs and standby generators which do not connect to the grid don’t need to be registered.
Existing SSEG Systems – What and How to Register.
The City has issued an instruction that ALL residential renewable energy systems (SSEG) be registered by 28 February 2019 in accordance with the City’s Electricity Supply By-law, Jul 30, 2018. For links to the relevant forms and supporting documents go to: http://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Apply/Municipal-services/Electricity/apply-for-authorisation-for-off-grid-or-standalone-sseg
Four SSEG options need to be registered:
1 Totally off Grid, probably with batteries, but no back up supply from the local authority. This requires a declaration statement that the system is entirely off grid.
2 Grid-tied hybrid systems, i.e. without feed-in to the grid. Electricity generated by the PV/ SSEG system is used locally on the property. Excess electricity is blocked from feeding back onto the grid. A Certificate of Compliance that the system is non-feed in is required as well as a test report. See link above for requirements for these.
3 Grid-tied inverters which can operate in “islanded mode”. Used during general power outages. Must meet SANS 10142-1:2017 Clause 7.12 and Annexure P standards. A Certificate of Compliance that the system is non-feed in is required as well as a test report.
4 Grid-tied feed-in system (with export option). The electricity generated by the PV system is used locally on the property with excess electricity being fed back onto the electricity grid. A CoCT approved inverter and interlocker change over switch is required. A feed in tariff applies and the City pays the household for electricity fed back to the grid.
In sum, all residential properties with a registered and approved grid-tied SSEG system must either have a reverse-blocking system, so that they can not feed into the CoCT grid, in order to remain on the Home User tariff. If they omit the reverse-blocking system and change to the Residential SSEG system then installation of an AMI meter is required. Clients need to decide which is the financially better option and this depends primarily on the present and anticipated electricity consumption and tariffs.
The declaration and registration requirements apply to SSEG within the CoCT supply area with a generation capacity less than 1MVA.
There is no registration fee. However, you will probably need to pay an independent electrician to certify your system. Unless you have the paperwork and certification from the installer.
On receipt of your application forms the authorisation process by the City can take between 30 working days and three months.
Cape Town citizens living in an ESKOM area of supply, need to apply to Eskom to connect SSEG to the electrical grid.
How to apply for SSEG that does not feed into the City’s Grid?
Step 1: Download and complete the form – Declaration for Off-Grid Small Scale Embedded Generation form. The form requires technical information that your installer will be able to assist you with.
Step 2: Send the completed Declaration form to the City. Include a copy of the electrical installation Certificate of Compliance (CoC), a test report and a schematic diagram of the off-grid installation, from your electrician, with the form.
Step 3: A City technician will contact you regarding the next steps to verify that the system is fully off-grid.
Step 4: The City will then issue an Off-Grid Due Diligence Installation Approval letter. This gives you permission to generate your own electricity in a safe and legal manner.
To install and apply for a SSEG system that is designed to feed into the City’s Grid go to
The application forms can be downloaded at:
Application for the Connection of Small-Scale Embedded Generation (GEN/EMB) form and the Application for a New or Modified Electricity Supply Service form. These forms require technical information which your installer will be able to assist you with.
Registered SSEG systems based on renewable energy that feeds into the City’s grid is the future of electricity for communities, schools, complexes , etc and individual homes. They can potentially provide citizens with a clean and reliable electricity supply without escalating energy costs. The sun and wind don’t charge for their services. However the infrastructure to manage renewable energy, to provide storage and to shift user demand to correspond with production, such as when the sun is shining does have new costs. Tariffs based on the services of providing communal distribution, storage and demand management should then be far more transparent than the current ESKOM model. SSEG provides exciting opportunities for cities and citizens. The question is will the authorities adapt in time to support a transformation to a clean energy future complemented by a network of producer -consumers? Those who can are going off grid – but for a society based on the well being of all we need to be connected, and not just for energy.
Kim Kruyshaar December 2018
For the City’s media release on the registration of SSEG go to http://www.capetown.gov.za/Media-and-news/No%20charge%20for%20solar%20PV%20system%20registration