LegalBrief 1 October, 2019
Energy: Western Cape leads the way in green stakes
The majority of Western Cape municipalities have enabling by-laws for residents and businesses to generate their own green energy using solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and sell it back into the grid. Business Day says 23 of the 25 municipalities in the province have enabling by-laws to allow embedded generation of between zero and 1MW in size, and 19 offer a feed-in tariff to customers which allows them to feed back what they don’t use into the grid. There are only another six municipalities in the rest of the country that have a feed-in tariff, putting the Western Cape far ahead in the green energy stakes. The city of Cape Town, for instance, buys back electricity from 342 households, 120 small businesses and 35 large industrial users, paying customers the same average rate at which it buys bulk electricity from Eskom. Potential is much higher with about 3 000 customers with registered panels and another 3 000 that have installed PV solar without registering. To connect to the grid, however, requires that certain technical requirements are met, such as the installation of an inverter, which requires a larger capital outlay, making it a fairly expensive investment for households. Hoosain Essop, Cape Town’s electricity retail manager, says most customers who put up solar PV panels want to remain connected to the grid as opposed to going off-grid completely as this allows them to use municipal electricity when they have no solar energy available.