ECB implements Net metering rules

What is net metering and what does the implementation mean for the Namibian society?

The Electricity Control Board through the Ministry of Justice finally approved the Net metering rules last year and are ready for implementation.

Net metering is generally a billing mechanism that credits renewable energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a PV system on the home’s rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours.

Residents,office buildings ,schools,workshops,factories and supermarkets share one common denominator;they require  electricity to fulfil their function.Except for residents the majority of this power usage takes place during daytime and this coincides perfectly with Namibia’s 300-plus sunny days.The way to go is a PV Solar Feed -In system which helps to make money by saving on cost of electricity.

The objectives of net metering are;

  1. Increase power generation into the grid without increasing the investment requirements of licensees and Independent Power Producers.
  2. To allow customers minimise the imports from distribution networks by generating for personal consumption
  3. To promote sustainable energy development
  4. To improve employment creation

There are certain generation capacity limits for monitoring stability and control of the grid. Imposing set limits protects the current electrical infrastructure, such as power transmission lines, from being overloaded. Meters for net metered installations are likely to measure electricity fed in and out in two separate measuring unit registers. The current electrical infrastructure does not allow for an IPP circuit breaker meter rating exceeding 500 kilovolt-amps (kVA).

They must also comply with meter standards, as set for medium and low voltage electricity distribution works in Namibia.

About 35 IPP licences have been issued to date by the energy sector regulator, mostly for small-scale renewable energy projects, largely through its Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) initiative, which aims to attract local investment into the sector.

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.

The new regulations also propose that distribution licensees must connect net metering consumers in its distribution licence area, on a first-come, first-served principle, until the limits on power generation are decided on later.

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.

Tariffs, compensation and billing

A distribution licensee must provide to customer-generators electricity services at non-discriminatory rates that are identical, with respect to the rate structure, retail rate components and any monthly charges, to the rates that the customer would be charged if not a customer-generator, including choice of retail tariff schedules. 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.

Namibia currently imports over 60 percent of its power requirements from South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, a position that has seen an aggressive licensing and implementation of IPPs, to argument local production.

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