Nersa: you need to register generators, solar panels

By Penwell Dlamini for Times Live

If you thought e-tolls were a total nightmare for consumers‚ wait until you read the new regulations that have been proposed by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa).

The Rules for Registration of Small-Scale Embedded Generation‚ the draft consultation paper published last week‚ will require you to register with Nersa before connecting your generator at your home.

The rules apply both to off-grid systems‚ with no connection to the national electricity system‚ and systems connected to the grid in any way – whether or not they are intended to feed electricity back into the grid.

Small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) includes generators‚ solar photo-voltaic panels and backup generators.

The rules state that no customer may connect to the distribution system (municipality or Eskom) without the following:

  • Submitting an application for registration to Nersa;
  • Receiving a quotation after the application from the distributor‚ paying the required connection charge/fees and signing the required connection and use of system agreement; and
  • Ensuring that the connection and the equipment used are certified to comply with all required technical standards.

Upon receiving the application and conclusion of the customer connection and use-of-system agreement with the distributor‚ the distributor will then send the information to Nersa for registration.

To complicate matters‚ it is only possible to register by way of an electricity distributor – either Eskom or a municipality – even for generators that are not due to be connected to such a distributor’s system.

The rules apply to all generators of less than 1 megawatt. Above that level‚ the law requires the same sort of licensing as for a full-blown power station.

Eskom or a municipality responsible for distribution also has its own responsibilities‚ which include the following:

  • Providing to the customer non-discriminatory access to its distribution system‚ except if there are objectively justifiable reasons;
  • Ensuring that the connection to the distribution complies with the licence conditions of the distributor‚ grid code and national requirements; and
  • Should the customer want to increase the supply to above 1 megawatts‚ the distributor will redirect the customer to apply to Nersa for a generation licence‚ provided that the distributor agrees with the applicant’s request to increase the supply and exemption has been granted by the Department of Energy.

Nersa said the regulations were aimed at meeting the economic objectives of the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006. The proposals are open for public comment until the end of May.

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