Electricity Control Board (ECB) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Rojas Manyame, says the country’s new net metering rules, which were gazetted last month, are now at the implementation stage.
“The licensees will be presented with the rules and then they will be given a preparation period of six months, during which they will have to put measures in place to make sure that the rules are implemented,” Manyame said.
Net metering is how power from solar panels or other renewable energy generators (projects below 500kW), connected to a public utility power grid, is measured and transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to balance the cost of power drawn from the utility.
“This is investment being made on the consumer side, so as to offset the consumption for Namibia, which will in a way save the country in terms of power generation and also contribute to savings at a national level,” he said.
The current electrical infrastructure does not allow for an IPP circuit breaker meter rating exceeding 500 kilovolt-amps (kVA).
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.
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.
According to the ECB’s Electricity Supply Industry Statistical Bulletin, domestic electricity customers in central Namibia and the Erongo region consistently have the highest average monthly bill, followed by customers supplied by Oshakati Premier Electric.
According to the bulletin, this is an indication that the IPPs with the highest chance of success will be located in these areas, to reduce transmission diminishment over long distances.
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.
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.