The economic downturn has taken its toll on South Africans over the past few years. Most simply cannot keep up with the hikes in fuel, rates and taxes, basic foods, water, etc. The strain has pushed households in search of any means to reduce expenses and to save wherever they can. This is visible during the ongoing drought in Western Cape as more and more households invest in boreholes to escape the rise in water tariffs.

Many households have invested in Solar PV to cut electricity costs and to ensure the lights stays on during load shedding or simply to reduce the reliance on government. For some, going green is simply the only way forward as no one is sure what to expect in the coming years.

The City of Cape Town released a statement on 24 July 2018 encouraging citizens to register both grid-tied and off –grid small –scale embedded generation (SSEG). The City of Cape Town has set 28 February 2019 as the deadline by which these installations must be registered. The exception under the by-law is that the SSEG Regulations do not apply to solar water heaters.

The City encouraged citizens to go green and has ensured that the registration process is not too penalise existing and future citizens’ attempt in going green, simply to ensure that it is installed to code. By connecting the SSEG system to the grid, it can pose a safety risk to the self-same grid. The City has issued regulations and guidelines ensuring that all generating equipment is approved and installed correctly. It is of utmost importance to note that this bylaw is not new, but has been in existence since 2010[1] and may become a national legal requirement.

The deadline should by no means be taken lightly as adequate time was given since 2010 to register all solar systems for authorization. To place emphasis on the importance herein, the City has warned that hefty fines will be dealt out to those whose solar systems do not comply with the bylaw. Non-compliance can result in the disconnection of the SSEG system with a fine of R6 425.90 or more. In addition, the City also has the authority to disconnect the supply of electricity to the property until the existing SSEG system has been disconnected or the necessary authorisation obtained, as well as the service fee paid in full.

The unauthorised  supply of electricity may be disconnected by the City and can result in fines of up to R10 000, imprisonment of up to six months as well as being held liable for the costs in disconnecting such unauthorised supply. A further concern is that in the event of damage due to an electric shortage/fault it is found that the SSEG system in non-compliant, thus unauthorised supply, your insurance company may just abandon your claim due to the alteration. It is possible that you may not be able to obtain an electrical compliance certificate which, is a requirement when you sell and transfer your property, as equipment and alteration to the City’s grid will be regarded as illegal.

The City, in their attempt to accommodate citizens as far as possible has also granted a grace period of six months. Allowing citizens to register and obtain the necessary written authorisation letter from the City. This does not mean that you can postpone the registration of your SSEG system after the deadline. In the City’s statement, they make it clear that in the event that the SSEG system is registered after the deadline but, during the six months grace period, registration for authorisation will be accepted. Provided that the system is compliant with the City’s by-law. In the event that the system in found non-compliant, it will have to be disconnected until written authorisation obtained. It is clear that in order to minimize the risk of receiving fines from the City, registration should take place in accordance with the deadline.

The registration alone of your SSEG system does not meet all the requirements. There are five steps in total which, in summary include:

  • Submit the application form;
  • the assessment of the said application which include an inspection of the connection and meter;
  • obtaining the “permission to install letter”;
  • request from the City to lodge further documents such as the electrical certificate of compliance and circuit diagram;
  • sign the contract once appointment has been scheduled by the City.

Once this has been done, you will receive the approval letter. All the necessary forms and more in-depth information can be found on the City’s website[2] .

Sources:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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