Outrage as Cape Town residents face fines over unregistered solar panels
Cape Town - Owners of solar panels must have them registered or face being fined R6 425.90. Regulations set out in an electricity supply by-law forces consumers to have their solar panels registered with and authorised by the City before February 2019.
Mayoral committee member for water and energy Xanthea Limberg said the City was legally required to ensure that the electricity distributed to all its customers complied 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 by-law have therefore required that generation equipment connected to the city’s network be authorised by the city’s electricity department,” she said.
All small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems like rooftop solar PV installations must be registered with and authorised by the City before February 28 and those who fail to comply will be charged a R6425.90 service fee for the removal of unauthorised SSEG connections.
Limberg said unauthorised PV systems could interfere with the electricity supply, electricity demand management and future network planning.
“Connecting an SSEG system to the grid can pose a safety risk to electricity maintenance staff as well as be a fire risk to your household if done incorrectly. Furthermore, future insurance claims may be jeopardised if unauthorised systems are operated,” she said.
Limberg also said the main supply of electricity to properties with unregistered SSEG systems might be disconnected.
“And (it) 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,” she said.
Stop COCT founder Sandra Dickson said the City was milking residents with all sorts of levies and penalty fines. “We have seen this happen over and over. When the City made less money because people were saving more water, they introduced a water pipe levy. When the electricity income dropped, they came up with a fixed electricity surcharge of about R150. Here they want people to be less dependent on conventional energy and speak of greener energy, but they fine those who are not compliant almost R7000. This is just wrong. All the City is doing is paying lip service to its residents, who are already struggling to make a living,” she said.
Dave Long, general-secretary of South African Independent Power Producers Association, said the regulations were within the law, but it was frustrating.
“It’s a source of major frustration. We also want the National Energy Regulator to exempt people with a 1 megawatt or less system. But this is still a matter of public participation.”
Spokesperson for Nersa Charles Hlebela said the City was well within its power to apply the new regulations. However, he said a second public participation process to exempt those with a generation of 1MW or less was still underway.
To start the registration process, please visit www.capetown.gov.za/solarpv