Nersa seeks registration of private electricity producers – AfriBusiness wants answers

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has published rules for the registration of what it calls “small-scale embedded generation” and has invited the public to comment thereon by 31 May 2018. AfriBusiness is concerned with the intent behind the rules as the “innocent” language only refers to the registration of private small-scale electricity operations of less than 1 MW, whether connected to the main grid or not.

AfriBusiness believes Nersa is attempting to create a database of private electricity producers which could be used to identify individuals who are living off the grid completely or partially, which will allow Nersa or municipalities to levy fees for the operation of such systems. This is ironic considering the fact that after the major load shedding suffered since 2008, certain consumers have heeded Eskom’s call for them to utilise less electricity. Now that they have heeded the call, there is an attempt to make an income off the dwindling electricity sales as more people and companies are going off grid.

Nersa’s attempt to regulate private electricity production is another example of unnecessary interference by the state to hinder the private sector. Private electricity production is not harming anyone except those state-owned enterprises and local municipalities that are now bearing the brunt of their efforts to have South Africans use less electricity from local suppliers.

“AfriBusiness will submit comments to Nersa regarding these regulations and is urging the public to do the same. It is important to protect the private sector and free-market principles from state interference as such interference mostly leads to detrimental consequences for those who are being overregulated,” says Armand Greyling, Law and Policy Analyst at AfriBusiness.