ECB approves off-grid solar homes
By Freeman Ngulu
14 December 2016 – The CEO of the Electricity Control Board, Foibe Namene said this week that new net metering rules will allow households and Independent Power Producers (IPP) to feed electricity that they produce back into the main electricity supply grid.
“The Rules provide acknowledgement of the investment and savings on utility bill” Namene said on the Net Metering Rules Gazetted which allows households with roof solar panels to be credited as Independent Power Producers. If passed the net metering rules will be implemented in six months.
Current electrical infrastructure does not allow for IPP’s circuit breaker’s kilovolt-amps (kVA) meter rating to exceed 500 kVA.
The gazette allows for electricity distribution licensees to be vetoed by the Electricity Control Board with details on their mass generation capacity limits to collect generation capacity limits, once the proposed law is passed.
Imposing set limits for electrical grid stability of the electricity distribution network in that particular area protects current electrical infrastructure such as power transmission lines from being overloaded.
Meters for net metered installations are likely to measure electricity feed in and out in two separate measuring unit registers and comply with meter standards as set for medium and low voltage electricity distribution works for Namibia and not of the pre-paid type.
Conditions set out for net metering specify that generation systems must also be warranted by the manufacturer to shut down or disconnect upon loss of licensee power. This according to a local Economist is to prevent the whole national grid from switching off as seen with a national scare after the Aries/Kokkerboom 400 kV transmission line trip, the main line that feeds power from South African electricity utility company, ESKOM, to Namibia. The tripping of the 400kV affected other transmission lines, as well as two generators at Ruacana and Van Eck Power Stations.
According to the ECB’s Electricity Supply Industry Statistical Bulletin, domestic electricity customers in Central Namibia and the Erongo Region have the highest average monthly bill consistently, followed by customers supplied by Oshakati Premier Electric.
This bulletin sees this as an indication that the IPP’s with the highest chance of success will be located in these areas to reduce transmission deminishment over long distances.
The new regulations also propose that distribution licensees must connect net metering consumers in its distribution license area on a first-come first-serve principle until the limits on power generation are decided on later.
Distribution licensees are not allowed to estimate the electricity consumed and generated by net metered customer-generators during any billing period. The meters of net metered customer-generators
are only to be read by distribution licensees for every billing period.