Cape Town SSEG 2023 Feedback to Grid – not so fast…

The papers are full of the “good” news that Cape Town plans to let commercial, and residential users feed back to the grid, and potentially make money!

Thing is, none of the papers have actually done any due diligence and looked into whats actually on offer. The short form if you can’t be bothered reading, is that it’s really greenwashing.

There is no way that Residential users will be doing anything other than paying fixed costs, so any claims otherwise are pretty bogus.

Commercial users on the other hand can definitely make some bucks, but that will depend on their usage.


Feedback limits.

Current (haha!) residential restrictions are based on your incoming feed size:
– 40A 2.3KW feedback max
– 60A 3.5KW feedback max
– 80A 4.6KW feedback max

This means that while you could say have an 8KW inverter, and 10KW of panels, and could potentially feedback up to 40kWh a day, you’ll be limited to feeding back whatever your grid connection is as per the above.

The fairly low limitations mean that its going to be virtually impossible to make a credit on residential.
I understand the limits, and the reasoning for the limits, and don’t really have a complaint there, but effectively they make feed back to the grid rather pointless for the average user.

When you add in the extra fee for the 4 quadrant meter, and a new monthly reading fee on top for reading a remotely readable AMI meter, you’re really giving them free electricity for little to no benefit to you.

Yes.., it will help CoCT, but you – not so much. Given the extra costs involved, and the marginal benefit at most in rather tenuous hard to reach circumstances, its effectively not worth bothering with.

I would go as far as saying, the claims of making money are pretty much greenwashing, and the whole setup looks rather designed to put things squarely in CoCT’s benefit, vs being a balanced win-win for both parties. The game, she is rigged…

Lets go into some detail on that

SSEG requires you to join Home User, and pay a meter reading fee.
This years costs for that are: R185+vat (R212), meter reading fee R90+vat (R103.5).
Also add your R12,850 for the meter; we can amortize that over 5 years for a monthly cost for simplicity.

I do expect these costs to increase year on year, and the generous, cough 25c bonus for feeding back this year to also disappear, so the figures below will be even worse than shown in the years to come.

Some Assumptions

Lets assume you have a magical system that has plenty of excess and you can feed a full 5hrs a day back to the Cape Town grid at their max limits for those 5 hours day in, day out winter and summer, *and* you don’t need grid electricity at all in daytime.

Yes, thats a bit farfetched, but hey, lets make this lean towards giving them the benefit of the doubt.

If we look at the options, we have 40A, 60A and 80A connections to the grid under the Home User Tariff, I’ll also gloss over 3 phase here, and assume its all single phase. For our calculation purposes its the same, although your PV equipment costs will of course vary.

40A Connection

40A – 2.3 x 5 x 30. = 345kWh fed back @R1
The monthly home user + meter reading fee costs are higher, so for 345KW fed back, you’d be effectively losing money.

R103.5 + R212 + R215 (meter amortized over 5 years) = R530.50 cost / month

You’re basically losing R150 / month there. When that 25c bonus falls away, this loss will increase to you losing R270 /month on fixed costs.

Assuming a more likely number of 3kWh/ day fed back on average over the year:

3 x 30 = 90kWh fed back

R530 cost, and R90 credit. Thats a firm no for me to feeding back.

60A Connection

60A – 3.5 x 5 x 30 = 525kWh fed back
R530 cost for R525 credit, so you’re still under cost, albeit barely. When that 25c bonus falls away, this will change to you losing R131/month on fixed costs.

Assuming a more likely number of 5kWh/ day excess fed back on average over the year:

5 x 30 = 150kWh fed back

R530 cost, and R150 credit…. That really doesn’t pay, does it..

80A Connection

80A – 4.6 x 5 x 30 = 690kWh fed back
R160 “profit”. When that 25c bonus falls away, this will drop to roughly breaking even on fixed costs.

Assuming a more likely number of 10kWh/day excess fed back on average over the year:

10 x 30 = 300kWh fed back

R530 cost, R300 credit… again, only a good deal for Cape Town.

As you can see, none of these are a great deal, even in fictitious optimal circumstances!

Whats worse is I don’t even go into your equipment costs.

Reality is you’ll be closer to 5-10KW fed back a day averaged out over a year with a large system, and the CoCT costs effectively make choosing to feed back moot/ a cost to you.

So again, its a myth you’ll make money – this is effectively a way for CoCT to sell cheap electricity for a nice profit. Not necessarily terrible, but they’re offsetting the capital costs squarely on you, and adding additional costs that will go up year on year.

I’m not against CoCT making money, but they should be clear that this is more about helping the grid, vs letting residential consumers offset costs. It literally costs you more money to feedback, so you’re effectively paying to subsidise cheap electricity that they will resell on.

My verdict – greenwashing at best, and rather one sided for Cape Town vs the consumer.

Don’t bother.