Just as we thought we were free to bypass the grid, the rising costs of electrical supply, and do our bit for the environment…without government involvement, thinking of investing in solar panel systems beyond solar back-up generators…

The South African government has introduced regulations requiring all power users (domestic and commercial) to register their ‘grid-tied’ and ‘off-grid’ alternative power sources. This has had people up in arms. It’s not going down well in a nation that has had to endure load-shedding in conjunction with electricity accounts almost doubling year by year, eating into monthly budgets like ‘Pacman’.

2018 rules for registering your Solar PV power generators
Fancy some easy Sunday afternoon reading? See the latest rules for registration of your solar panel systems

These regulations are based on 2017 amendments made to Schedule 2 of the South African Electricity Regulation Act, 2006 (ERA) We are unfortunately not allowed to plead ignorance of the law, so best do some reading if you have alternative power in your domestic or commercial property.

These rules are involved and detailed, but in a nutshell – they are aimed at governing electrical resellers, who can supply electricity to others from solar panel systems. That is potentially anyone, or any residential area with solar panels, or commercial PV plant – ‘grid-tied’ (unless it’s just a back-up solar generator) or 100% ‘off-grid.’

Solar PV generated power are part of the future national power supply
Importantly, it’s not that they don’t want you to install solar panels. Quite the opposite: they want to make sure they keep control and ownership of the national power supply, including that generated from solar panel systems. There’s no charge for your self-installed home solar power supply; in fact, grid-tied systems are being encouraged. However, the growth of the Solar PV industry has the potential to evolve into large solar grids that can supply hundreds of homes or businesses. That’s when your pie becomes part of ‘their whole pie’.

Register your Solar PV to avoid being fines
Don’t register, and you will be fined. Heavily. It will also cost you to register. There is no government registration fee, yet, but you do need to pay for an accredited electrician to sign off on your registration and supply the technical details required on the registration form. It costs less than the fine…if that makes you feel any better.

Interestingly Germany generates over half of its energy with solar power, with large individual ownership of solar panels rather than solar farms. A common feature on the roofs of German homes, one only has to be impressed with the forethought of the German people, possibly time for us to have the same mind set.