Cape Town - The City, through its department of energy, said that from October 1 this year, residents could expect the processing time of their small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems applications to be significantly reduced, and by early next year it would launch an easy-to-use online portal.
Earlier this year, the local municipality announced that from next month, all SSEG systems would require a City-approved inverter and professional to sign off, as they would now be regarded as grid-tied as per the National legislation and regulations.
Energy Mayco member Beverley van Reenen said the City was looking to improve the authorisation turnaround time to improve safety, prevent the risk of area outages due to inferior systems connected to the grid, and help protect homeowners from many illegitimate operators.
“The volume of applications and the fact that there are so many different types of systems have caused delays in the authorisation process.
“We are working hard to shorten authorisation approval times, including appointing more staff for faster turnaround, and developing an easyto-use online applications portal,” Van Reenen said.
To date, the City said it had authorised almost 6 000 systems.
Commenting on progress by the City to facilitate residents’ transition from relying on state-supplied energy to utilising solar power, energy expert Wido Schnabel said there was a lot the City was doing right, but there were still a few areas local government could look into tackling.
Schnabel said: “Currently, if I want to connect my system and feed back extra energy into the grid, it can take up to six months. That can’t be the case; the process is too long. A bidirectional meter installation should happen within a week or two days, allowing residents to put energy back into the grid if they have a solar system.
“I’m intrigued to see the City implementing the measures they’re talking about because we have been saying that they should up their game.”
Schnabel said the City could also look into making bidirectional meters available at an affordable price.
“At the moment, you pay R12 000 for a bidirectional meter. That meter should cost R2 000, and when you install it, it should be done within 14 days. To file an application, and have it take six months is discounting the urgency of our situation,” he said.
“We have City officials and the mayor making big commitments and all, and it’s nice to hear, and it seems he is doing something, but again the processes are too slow.
“My advice to every South African with a roof, is to get solar panels attached to that roof. Every day that you can harvest a kilowatt hour from the sun is cheaper. Even if you buy a system and you have to pay it off, in the long run, it’s cheaper than buying energy from the grid.”
Schnabel said solar power was cheaper than grid power. He said the more people who converted to solar power and fed extra energy back into the grid the better, because it would also help to alleviate South Africa’s energy crisis.