Surplus PV power feed back across South Africa

I’m looking for info on where and how grid feed back is permitted across South Africa, and info on the meters required. This relates to residential and SME implementations, and excludes large Eskom and IPP-scale projects.

Cape Town is the logical starting point, so any depth info for the region on the following would be appreciated:

  • Brand and models - current
  • Proposed cheaper meter (by CoCT)
  • Meter datasheets and manuals
  • Any advice, experience and tips that you are willing to share

I expect that Cape Town’s regs and governance experience will be observed and similarly implemented in other regions going forward.

  • Where else is grid feed back permitted, or imminently about to be permitted across SA?
  • Wishful thinking… there’s an up-to-date list somewhere, with links to all the municipal and Eskom regs and application processes (or is this too optimistic?)

Can anyone help?

The biggest problem with that list is how well the Munic’s are being run.

CoCT is going for proper feedback with all that entails, but as of today:

  1. The cost of the bi-directional meter, is still being sorted by CoCT.
  2. The monthly cost for feeding back, being reduced I hear.
  3. The systems required to do the accounting, in the test phase, for larger entities at present.

Seems that 2024 would be the year that CoCT has all its ducks in their rows, for home users to feedback.

There are some munics here and there that do allow and make it work using the Net-metering method I gather.

Thanks. I’m aware that CT is imminently going to approve a meter that costs about half of the current meter(s). I’m looking for any detailed info on the devices and status across SA.

The solar market, solutions and products will evolve nationwide as more feed back is permitted.

But it appears that it’s a fragmented evolution, rather than a coordinated, national set of standards, SANS-certified meters, and procedures that will be applicable in all regions.

Cape Town is clearly the PathFinder here - hopefully their online application, approval and auditing processes can and will be replicated for national benefit.

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If I remember in that family meeting on Eskom which CR had in July 2022 he said feedback for direct Eskom customers will be fast tracked, did anything come of that?
I’m not talking big farmers and big customers wheeling, I know that has been possible for a while, but anything on the normal household direct Eskom customer?


Last I heard, ESKOM has enough on its plate.
I understand that means they won’t give permission but can’t be bothered to stop you.
My sizeable installation must be in almost a decade now, the lecky bill gets paid regularly, and no questions have been asked.
(Other nearby installations were caught with meters going in reverse (that’s dumb!), and the meters were changed).

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We have a new 3 phase meter which they installed last year, so I’m sure it anyway won’t be able to run in reverse, from what I read a while ago it’s only the very old meters which can run in reverse.

If the day comes when I can feed bac but have to pay thousands for a new fancy smart meter, I won’t do it, except if I can get money off my R3500 line charge when I feed back enough. Highly doubt that’s going to happen though.

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Well, you can do limited 1ph export on a 3ph meter.
The meter will only reverse if you export more than all three phases combined otherwise it just slows down.
(Caveat: Unless meters have got a lot more advanced than I remember them).

R3500 for a line charge - is that a business tariff and what region is that if you don’t mind my asking?

For comparison, the Joburg (Midrand) single-phase, post-paid, domestic line charges this month were (1) R39 for Network Surcharge, (2) R181 for Service Charge and (3) R589 for Network Charge - totalling R809.

If you can get solar production over 70% of monthly kWh used, then a few hundred bucks can be saved by changing to pre-paid. For the above residential consumption, some spreadsheet modelling showed realistically that R36,000 would be saved annually by changing to pre-paid if 70% of KWh can be generated via PV, making the payback for panels about 2 1/2 years. At 90%, R43,000 would be saved annually, making the payback about two years. This is for a home that uses an average 1377 KWh monthly, where the cost of the inverter and battery have already been written off, so it’s only the PV panel cost. Not knowing the cost of a Joburg feed back meter, the recovery period including the meter cost has not been calculated (yet).

3 phase connection, Direct Eskom customer on a farm, Land Rate 40A per phase, we are in Tshwane.
R3500 pm before the meter starts running, we use around 1500 kWh per month, bill usually ends up around R6k.

That is higher than I expected. Three-phase pre-paid meters costs as little as R1,100, so if you have solar or are planning to install, then changing to a pre-paid meter may be a cost saving as per the example above. I don’t know how farm tariffs model, but if you want a spreadsheet into which you can enter your tariffs for the different tiers and do some comparative modelling with your current bill, I’d be happy to share.

Eskom no longer do 3 phase pre paid on farms, I enquired a while ago.

I also went through this but you actually only need single phase if you go 3P PV. Just to top up the batteries when needed. You can save alot on the monthly but they may charge you (probably will) for the meter and/or transformer downgrade.

Ja I’ll look at the options when I go PV eventually.

The few farms in our area on single phase pay around R1500 pm, so there is a saving, but I actually need 3 phase for the deep borehole pump.

You do get single to 3 phase VSD’s if your pump is 4kW or less you could look at that as an option.

The feedback tariff (what they pay you) is fixed by NERSA, and the municipalities have to pay you back at that rate

Also NERSA have a “net consumer” requirement. I draw maybe 60 units from the grid a month. So I can sell back 59.99. At 60 something cents per unit that’s not a lot, though it might amount to a useful credit.

COCT have secured a waiver (two years or maybe one) for the net consumer requirement, and are offering (from some other cost center) and extra 25c per unit that you sell back. The latter is also time limited.

In all cases the killer is the meter. COCT are looking at a cheaper meter, and once they do that others will start using the same (a nice little earner for whoever has the franchise for that meter). But it will still be in the thousands of rands, and the householder will have to carry the cost of the meter.

In COJ, feedback is permitted

  1. At the NERSA rate
  2. Meter at your own cost - about 7 grand
  3. Net consumer requirement in place
  4. You have to switch to the resellers tariff with R700 to 800 a month in fixed fees before you’ve used or sold any power.

(4) may not be an issue if you’re on their standard post-paid tariff. You are paying those flat fees anyway.

But if, like me, you’re on pre-paid from City Power, it’s hard to see how you will so much as break even on the flat fees. Forget the cost of the meter.

So it’s hard to make a financial case for it as things stand.

My cynical take: Municipalities want to say 'OF COURSE you can sell back your surplus PV". And under their breath they add “you’d have to be stupid, but you can do it.”:

I wonder if there’s not a better way. I would happily give away my surplus power. I want nothing for it. But

  1. No cost to me
  2. There is no agreement that I will export X kWh per month (because overcast days happen).

I wonder how many other folks would do the same just to help out in their small way. Enough people doing a little can add up to a lot.

Unlikely they will got for such a scheme because then they will bear the cost of the meter replacement, so now how do THEY break even?


Joburg is an outlier case here I think, because their service charges are so high - about R700/800 a month.

This is why folks are switching to prepaid in Johannesburg. You pay more per unit consumed, but the service charges fall away, which more than compensates for the increased unit cost.

NB! For folks with solar and a City Power pre-paid meter: Buy some units every 3 months at most. If you go 90 days without loading your meter will fall off their systems and you won’t be able to buy any more tokens when you do need them.

The sums to feedback, to date, and we are talking a few years now, have not made any sense to me.

But for most who have installed a system to fit their NEEDS, not WANTS, and definitely not HOBBY level, the sums are quite difficult to make when it is mainly summer feedback.

Spending wot, R6k on the new Cpt planned meter, and wot, R5 per month feedback rate they said they may get to, and that for a limited time, as @Bobster reminded me of, I rather give the free power back to CoCT, for a token if they want, if that was ever on the cards. As long as it does not cost me a cent more.

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If it costs me nothing, then I’ll feed back all I can, don’t want any money for it, they can have that energy.

But the problem comes in at the R5k, R10k, R15k special meter, the monthly charge for the privilege to feed back and in my case direct Eskom customer on a farm the R3500 connection fee I must pay per month whether I use 1 or 10,000 kWh, whether I feed back 1 or 10,000 kWh.

Unfortunately this will cost you in the added wear and tear on your hardware. I have fed back once for a whole day just for the giggle of it, paid for it too, but the inverter works HARD!

Realized it depends heavily on how carefully one has balanced the panels versus batts versus loads on how much spare there is and when. As it may only happen in summer, and only for a few hours per day, once all the rest was “fed” from solar, and there is spare left over in the afternoons.

Others have too much, then the sums change.

BUT, I do agree 100%. careful for the extra potential wear and tear.
I did not buy the system for feedback… bought it for ROI, for my own consumption. LS was just a side benefit, and no wear and tear were factored in, for cents on the rand, and not even for 5+ years “guaranteed”.

Also to ponder on: (for newbies getting excited)

  1. Take a year and do your sums on what you can actually feedback in a year - is it worth it?
  2. And be careful of this rabbit hole:
  • It is summer, I have spare … what to do!? Want to feedback… cents on the rand much?
  • It is winter, I need more panels … let’s add more!?
    … and the circle starts.

Weather, she is a “peach” on ROI figures … wear and tear the silent “drag”, where applicable.