May 10, 2024

Cape Town’s New, Affordable Solar Power Meter

Cape Town has introduced a more affordable electricity meter for residents participating in the 'Cash for Power' initiative, allowing them to sell surplus solar power back to the city. The newly available single-phase meter is about 40% cheaper than the previous three-phase option, priced at R6043 including VAT, compared to the old meter's R10,508.

Single-Phase AMI Meter

According to the city council’s website, Cape Town is set to introduce the eagerly anticipated affordable single-phase feed-in meter, allowing more residents to sell surplus solar power to the city. The team has procured, tested, and is now launching this single-phase AMI meter for customers.

According to Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, residents can now order their meters and enrol in the Cash for Power program to earn money for the excess power they sell, contributing to the broader objective of eventually eliminating load-shedding in the city.

“In addition to ordering their metres, residents can now enrol in our Cash for Power scheme, which allows them to get paid for the extra electricity they sell to the city. This ultimately advances our larger objective of gradually putting an end to load shedding in Cape Town,” the Mayor stated.

1,537 Individuals and Companies Already Benefiting

Cape Town stands as the pioneering metropolitan area in purchasing surplus solar PV power from small-scale producers in return for credits on municipal bills and monetary compensation. Since the beginning of the 2022/23 fiscal year until April 1, 2024, businesses and households have collectively earned over R30.8 million, primarily through credits on their municipal bills.

Initially, a power seller's municipal bill is automatically credited to zero, with the opportunity to apply for cash rewards beyond a zero balance. While businesses have had the option to earn cash for power since June 2023, households can now also avail themselves of this opportunity.

As of April 1, 2024, there are presently 1,537 sellers benefiting from their surplus energy generation. Among these sellers, 910 are residential and 627 are commercial/industrial.

Previously, sellers could only offset their electricity bills up to a zero balance. However, recent key policy adjustments in Cape Town now allow for the entire municipal bill to be offset, with the option for cash payouts beyond that. Additionally, the City has recently launched a new online portal to streamline the registration process for solar PV systems.

Mayor Hill-Lewis stated, "The City will purchase as much solar power as households and businesses can provide under the Cash for Power program. This initiative not only adds essential kilowatts to our grid but also puts money back into the pockets of Capetonians."

How to Benefit From the Scheme

Customers can obtain the new meter through an automated process if they have a Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) application in progress, or they can use the Service Connection process.

It's important to note that the single-phase AMI meter is not suitable for three-phase customers. Customers should ensure they have the necessary metering infrastructure and may need to make adjustments to their electrical supply installations. Once installed, customers can export excess energy back to the grid and participate in the "Cash for Power" Initiative, earning a municipal credit offset on their monthly bill.

For the Cash for Power program, customers with authorized grid-tied SSEG systems will automatically receive credits on their electricity and rates accounts. Those interested in earning cash beyond the credited municipal bill can apply to the next assessment window, with dates to be announced later. Any remaining credit will accumulate until reaching a certain threshold, at which point the City will pay out in cash.

Cape Town's rollout of the affordable single-phase feed-in meter is a significant step forward in its commitment to renewable energy and community empowerment. With over 1,500 sellers already benefiting from the program and recent policy adjustments enabling cash payouts, Cape Town is making progress towards its goal of ending load-shedding while setting an example for other cities to follow in embracing sustainable energy solutions.

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