In these periodically dark times of load shedding, citizens find themselves seeking alternative measures of power generation which has led to a rise in purchases of small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems such as solar installations and on-grid inverters.
In response to the growing popularity of SSEG systems, the City of Cape Town has implemented regulatory guidelines and established an online application platform to enhance safety and reliability in a speedy fashion. As of October 2023, residents and businesses seeking to install SSEG systems must comply with specific requirements, including initiating a prior approval application, registration of inverters, and submission of compliance certificates. These measures aim to ensure the proper installation and operation of on-grid solar photovoltaic (PV) and inverter battery systems while safeguarding against potential electrical hazards to an already burdened electrical grid.
All on-grid installations require registration
All on-grid installations in City of Cape Town including solar PV modules and inverter battery backup systems need to be registered and authorised with the municipality. The requirements are expressly applicable to on-grid installations with the exception of wall socket plug-in battery backup systems, such as trolley inverters and solar water heaters or geysers. These exceptions do not fall within the definition of an SSEG system and do not need to be registered.
The necessity of registration
The requirement for the registration of SSEG is an important and cautionary step taken by the city to address several concerns. Firstly, it allows the city to maintain an accurate record of these systems, which is essential for effective oversight and management. Secondly, it ensures that installations comply with local regulations and safety standards, thereby reducing the risk of unsafe or substandard installations.
City-approved inverters and standardisation
The City of Cape Town has established a list of test approved inverters in an attempt to rid the city of installations that fail to meet safety standards for grid connections. The requirement to use only city-approved inverters represents standardisation and quality control.
From a legal standpoint, this requirement enhances the reliability and performance of solar PV and inverter battery systems. It also reduces potential risk and disputes related to equipment quality and performance, as the city’s approval serves as a clear benchmark for compliance.
Installer certification and Certificate of Compliance
The requirements stipulate that the SSEG system must be installed by a competent South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited installer authorised to provide an SSEG certificate of compliance. The compliance certificate is to be used in support of the application for state approval.
The requirements further state installation systems that have not been approved by the City, and that rely solely on the issuing of a Certificate of Compliance, will not be authorised to connect to the city’s grid. Failure to obtain city approval constitutes an offence, which could lead to a penal service fee and/or disconnection and decommissioning of the system in terms of the City’s Electricity Supply By-law, 2010.
Sale of property
Just like the current provisions of a standard electrical compliance certificate, an SSEG certificate of compliance is required to be issued as a condition of sale and must include an online status indicating the state of connection or disconnection. The SSEG compliance certificate should ideally be provided for in the offer to purchase agreement. A standing certificate is valid for a period not longer than two years.
In the event that the system is neither city approved nor compliant with any newly stipulated requirement at date of transfer, the purchaser will be responsible for obtaining approval and authorisation.
Persons wishing to feed excess electricity back onto the grid will be duly compensated in accordance with set tariffs however before payment can be made, the exporting party must have an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meter installed to measure the amount fed into the grid. The fed voltage will be measured and credited to the exporting party’s monthly municipal account at 87c per kWh plus a further 25c per kWh incentive. The accumulated amount will be deducted from party’s monthly municipal account. During the transfer of a property a surplus amount will paid to the owner on written request provided that there is no outstanding municipal debt.
SSEG compliance ensures reliability and safety
The City of Cape Town’s requirements pertaining to SSEG are firmly grounded in its legal authority to protect public safety and ensure compliance with existing electrical regulations. The necessity of registration, use of city-approved inverters, and certification of installers are measures that serve to enhance accountability, reliability, and safety.
From a legal perspective, these regulations are not only justified but also essential to safeguard the interests of residents and businesses while promoting responsible use of alternative energy sources. Compliance with these requirements is a responsible and necessary step to ensure the safety and well-being of the community.
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The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.