Municipalities get green light to cut through surplus power's red tape

In an article carried in the Mail & Guardian of June 21, "Durban pioneers electricity scheme", there was confusion among municipalities over whether licences would be needed from Nersa.

The eThekwini metropole said it would go ahead with its project but Johannesburg and Cape Town said they would wait for clarity.

But the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has told the M&G that municipalities will be required only to register the small energy generators when providing it with the data the municipality must submit annually.

This must contain details required by the standard conditions for embedded generation within municipal boundaries, and includes the number of installations for each technology, the total capacity for each technology installed, complaints received from customers on the same circuit as the generator about quality of supply, all safety related incidents involving generation, and the tariffs applicable to these installations.

eThekwini recently threw the cat among the pigeons — it drew up a simple six-page application process and issued a public invitation to microgenerators — businesses and even households — to apply to supply the municipality with any surplus power generated.

It's already receiving power from six private energy ­generators, including a municipal waste project and a Tongaat-Hulett sugar mill.

Roy Wienand, deputy head of the eThekwini electricity utility, said the only issues that the region was very strict about was safety and the technical quality of supply when dealing with any generator, large or small.

"If they are clearly commercial scale generators then I always advise them to apply for a Nersa generation licence … For the expected thousands of very small generators in the future, Nersa could never cope with issuing licences to each one."

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