Amidst the raging debates, administrative inertia and legal wrangling surrounding the Independent Power Production Procurement Programme and the consequent focus on the marquee players in that melee, it is easy to overlook the crucial area of small business and domestic energy production and conservation.
Every small business, enthusiast or hobbyist who installs a solar panel, erects a wind turbine or operates a generator for whatever purpose, is by definition an Independent Power Producer, albeit for private use. Where do these people stand, in terms of the law, and to what extent will their activities be regulated as the framework evolves?
1 MW or smaller
In terms of the current gazetted Draft Licensing Exemption and Registration Notice , the capacity threshold for licensing requirements is set at 1MW or less. Any bigger than that, and you will be required to apply for licensing in terms of IPP Procurement Programme or Department of Energy requirements.
Within that broad limit, the exemptions detail scenarios in two categories – connected to the grid or not connected to the grid. Within the categories are specific requirements pertaining to the use of grid infrastructure, potential feed into the grid and related issues.
At first blush, it appears that the draft offers genuine potential to enable active participation in national energy matters even at a small business or domestic level. Of course, as with all regulation, it will be the implementation that will determine the outcome.
Every erg counts
The battle for energy security is, to borrow from Hollywood, “a game of inches”. We secure success if we commit enthusiastically to even the slightest gains and absolutely never give back any.
Energy efficiency and self-supply should be robustly encouraged and fostered. Broad participation in the decision-making and consultation process should provide the most representative framework to facilitate the acceptance and implementation of policy.