Jay Caboz
Photo Jay Caboz.
  • The deadline for Capetonians to register their solar PV systems with the City of Cape Town is on 31 May, 2 days away.
  • At one stage, non-registered systems were believed to make up 70% of all the rooftop panels in the city.
  • Failing to register means being cut off from the Eskom grid – and a fine of R6,425.90 to pay for that disconnection. 
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

Capetonians have 2 more days to register their solar PV systems with the City of Cape Town – or be disconnected from the city's electricity grid, a service for which they will then have to pay via a disconnection fine.

Registration is mandatory for all small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) installations with a generation capacity smaller than 1 Mega Volt Amp (MVA), which covers the vast majority of off-grid solar solutions for residential homes and some small offices.

According Niveshen Govender, programme manager at the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), Cape Town residents have had ample time since July last year to get their PV Systems registered. The grace period was extended from 28 February to 31 May. 

See also: It just became much easier for businesses to move off Eskom's grid - here's why

The City says registration is required for reasons that include the safety of its staff, who risk electrocution if they work on a system they believe safely offline while an unregistered home installation is feeding power back into the grid. 

At one stage non-registered systems were believed to make up 70% of the solar panels in the city, before the call to register was launched, said Govender. 

Those who fail to register by 31 May face being cut off from the Eskom grid – and then being slapped with a R6,425.90 disconnection fee

“We have confirmed with the City, that they will not and cannot remove PV systems that are not registered, however they are able to cut the supply from the distribution network. This will incur more costs for the owner for re-connection,” said Govender.

See also: With the new power price, solar geysers are almost – but not quite – starting to make financial sense

Once cut off, the city says it will only reconnect homes to the grid if the solar PV plant is registered and complies with safety standards – or is entirely removed – and after the disconnection service fee is paid.

The following systems must be registered:

  • Grid-tied with feed in (including hybrid) – where excess electricity is fed back onto the grid.
  • Grid-tied with reverse power flow blocking – when the output is connected to the household wiring and is connected to the City’s grid through the meter.
  • Grid-tied inverters which can operate in “islanded mode”  – used during general power outages.
  • Off-grid SSEG – not electrically connected to the electricity grid in any way. 

Residents with solar geysers and emergency equipment such as standby generators do not need to register.

The city has provided a set of guidelines to help with the registration process: 

1. For more general information about solar options, see Going Solar in the Home and Going Solar in the Workplace

2. Registration for an off-grid system follows a different process.

Once customers have registered their system, they have six months in which to demonstrate compliance and receive written authorisation from the City.

See also: Government wants townships to use more electricity - and may give them one free unit for every unit bought

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