You still save with solar

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Category: Solar and Efficient, Update

You still save with solar

The headline of a recent article conveying Eskom’s intention to charge grid-tied solar users a flat rate of R938 per month has caused quite a furore. According to the article, this rate would be charged regardless of the amount of electricity consumed from the national grid. Commentators took to social media to express their indignation about the power utility’s plans to implement these charges despite its inability to produce the energy supply they want consumers to pay for.

Some parties have even threatened court action against the power utility for wanting to penalise those consumers who are easing the pressure on the national grid by switching to solar. After all, is that not what we are repeatedly asked to do? Several of our efficient energy clients and partners have also voiced their concerns about the planned changes.

However, as Frank Spencer from the SA Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) explains in this interview on Newzroom Afrika, a lot of the controversy stems from confusion and misinformation about Eskom’s proposed changes to the tariff structure. Currently, residential users have fixed charges and energy usage charges built into a single kWh rate. The new proposed cost-reflective structure aims to separate the two. This would mean that ALL consumers tied to the national grid would pay a fixed charge for the infrastructure apart from the rates charged for energy usage, not just solar users. People do not always consider that many solar installations are grid-tied or hybrid, and therefore still sometimes make use of the national electricity network infrastructure. In a more recent interview with eNCA, Spencer reiterates that this component of the new proposed tariff structure does not constitute a penalty aimed at solar users.

Many players in the efficient energy industry are aware that Eskom has been contemplating these changes for several years. Be that as it may, the final decision ultimately resides with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), which is currently engaging the public on the utility’s application. In recent years we’ve seen Eskom and NERSA battling out proposed tariff increases in court and the general view in the sector is that even if the new tariff structure is approved, it would take some time for Eskom to implement it.

During the latest “family meeting” President Ramaphosa also announced some measures that would actually benefit solar users as part of the Government’s plan to tackle the country’s energy crisis. He encouraged businesses and homeowners to invest in rooftop solar installations.

We also don’t believe that Eskom’s proposed structural changes to electricity tariffs will have any material impact on our efficient energy clients, even if they are implemented. Solar users would still reap the benefit of having an alternative energy system installed by saving on their electricity usage tariffs and increasing property values. Our position has always been that we would cover additional regulatory costs, fees or charges billed to our efficient energy clients should these charges ever be enforced.

Solar power remains:

  • more reliable,
  • more affordable, and
  • better for the earth.

Our team of specialist consultants are always happy to assist you with a tailor-made efficient energy solution for your community scheme and to answer any questions you may have.