Energy regulator wants to police off-grid households

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Energy regulator wants to police off-grid households

Off-grid electricity retailers believe the registration plan by the Nersa is just another way to tax South Africans

Journalist

Retailers of off-grid electricity generation say the new proposed rules by the industry regulator will be impossible to police and will negatively affect their bottom line.
They believe the plan by the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) to have all forms of electricity production under 1MW registered is just another way to tax already financially stretched South Africans and will turn people off having renewable energy sources in their homes.Last month cabinet announced that it had approved a draft consultation paper from Nersa for all domestic, commercial and industrial customers who used solar, wind and generators to produce electricity to be registered.
The new rules applied to people on the grid as well as those completely off the grid.
The owner of electrical contractors Supa Nova, Irwin Hackmer, said most people with an alternative power supply do not connect it to the distributor grid.
“I think most people won’t even register and it won’t be policed because how will [Nersa] monitor it?” said Hackmer, whose company has installed solar panels and generators at homes for more than 30 years.
“It’s going to turn people off moving to renewable energy and it’s going to affect us because people will stop fitting these technologies at their homes.”AfriBusiness said on Tuesday that Nersa was attempting to create a database of private electricity producers that could be used to identify individuals who are living off the grid completely or partially‚ which will allow Nersa or municipalities to levy fees for the operation of such systems.
“This is ironic considering the fact that, after the major load shedding suffered since 2008‚ certain consumers have heeded Eskom’s call for them to utilise less electricity.
“Now that they have heeded the call‚ there is an attempt to make an income off the dwindling electricity sales as more people and companies are going off-grid. Nersa’s attempt to regulate private electricity production is another example of unnecessary interference by the state to hinder the private sector‚” they said.
Nersa spokesperson Charles Hlebela told Times Select that the regulator had not decided on what registration fees would cost, but that those affected would have to enter into a connection agreement with electricity distributors before applying to Nersa.Those who did not comply could be cut off, he said. “Network Service Providers will not connect them or, if the small-scale embedded generation will constitute dual connection, the NSP may disconnect its supply.”
Nersa also wants quarterly information from the distributors to verify applications for registration received from customers and will input the information into a database.
South African National Energy Association chairperson Brian Statham said the consultation paper is “too broad” in its intent in that it covers equipment both connected and not connected to the grid.
“This seems to be an overkill and unnecessary in terms of regulating the integrated electricity industry,” said Statham.
“It is not clear how Nersa will benefit from collecting all this information and the real value added.”
The proposal has been opened for public comment.

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