Why should you legally register your alternative energy installations?

Municipal Manager Ombali Sebola explained why alternative energy installations must be legally registered with local municipalities. “Municipal distributers are legally obliged to ensure that the distribution grid power is maintained and that safety standards are maintained to protect municipal staff working on the network, to protect the public in general, and to protect municipal infrastructure.”

“With loadshedding wreaking havoc on businesses and in our personal lives, we know that many people are considering installing alternative energy sources, or have already done so,” said Sebola. “If you are able to install such alternative power sources, we will not penalise you for doing so. But you must do so legally and register your system with the municipality before doing so.”

“Users who have installed small scale embedded generators (SSEG) without following the prescribed procedures must follow the same steps as those who are applying for a new installation. No retrospective application will be exempt from any municipal or other legal requirements,” he continued. “These users have a grace period of nine months to complete the application and registration process. The grace period begins on 1 July 2023 and ends on 30 September 2024. I reiterate that the municipality will not penalise users who register their systems, but those who fail to do so will face a maximum penalty of R10 300.00 and may have their systems dismantled and removed at their cost.”

Knysna Municipality is not alone in setting policies regarding the installation of SSEGs. Local municipalities must develop a regulatory environment which ensures the safe and proper functioning of their electricity grid in terms of the Municipal Structures Act No 117 of 1998. Adhering to legislation, Council has adopted its Embedded Generation Policy, which contains the conditions and application processes to install a small-scale embedded generator within the greater Knysna municipal area.

SSEGs include any generator, including solar photovoltaic-, wind-, hydro- or diesel powered generators, that can connect to and operate in parallel with the electrical distribution grid, and has a maximum power generation up to 1MVA/MW peak output capacity. These are most commonly installed on residential, commercial or industrial sites.

The application and registration process follows eight simple steps:
1) Obtain the application form/s from https://www.knysna.gov.za/live-here/utility-services/electricity/ or request the documents from the electricity department;
2) Complete the forms accurately and in full;
3) Obtain permission from other municipal departments (if applicable);
4) Submit completed form/s and all required documentation as attachments;
5) Commence installation upon receiving approval to do so;
6) Submit commissioning of the system, with relevant documentation, to the electricity department;
7) Inspection of installation (if applicable);
8) Final approval to connect to the network and make use of the SSEG.

As users with SSEGs are still connected to the network, they are not exempt from paying certain electricity tariffs. The approved monthly tariffs for residential single phase SSEG customers consist of a fixed or basic charge of R593.64, an energy charge of R1.82 per kWH and an export energy credit of R0.85 per kWh.

“The fixed charge includes a network charge relating to fixed costs associated with maintaining and operating the municipal electrical network and a service charge that covers the fixed costs related to providing a retail service network,” Sebola explained. “The energy charge is the variable cost associated with the volume of energy consumed and the export credit is the compensation payable to the customer for energy fed back into the network.”

“The electricity crisis is challenging all of us in ways we never would have thought possible,” he concluded. “National legislation requires us to regulate the installation of these types of alternative power sources to ensure your safety and that of our infrastructure. I believe that the Embedded Generation Policy, and its stipulations, will make these processes easier for everyone.”

For more information on the Embedded Generation Policy, or applying to install and register your SSEG, please contact Tholi Biyela, Manager Electrical & Mechanical Services at tbiyela@knysna.gov.za or tel 044 302 6409.

Download the Embedded Generation Policy at https://www.knysna.gov.za/live-here/utility-services/electricity/