Load Shedding in South Africa And The Issue Of Generator Pollution

Load Shedding in South Africa And The Issue Of Generator Pollution

South Africa has been experiencing load shedding for several months. The energy crisis reached fever pitch in early 2023, when it was declared a national disaster. It remains to be seen what the ramifications will be for the declaration on declared essential service providers and the procurement of energy – which procurement provisions can be onerous as against legislated red-tape.

Many private individuals and customers are resorting to purchasing a diesel generator. However, such alternative power supply is not without controversy and the human and environmental health risks associated with this method of energy provision are well recorded. Diesel generators cause considerable noise and atmospheric pollution. Specifically, the generators create carbon monoxide, and prolonged exposure to the same can lead to dizziness, chest palpitations, headaches, memory loss and nausea.

Many people assume that a generator simply needs to be purchased, and that there is little to no legislative and/or policy oversight of the same. This is not true.

The legislative and policy considerations for generators, especially large generators are actually very complex and comprehensive. Much of this oversight carries criminal sanction for non-compliance.

Municipalities are predominantly tasked with overseeing compliance, since municipalities are tasked with overseeing noise control and the provision of electrical services, if individuals are not connected directly with Eskom.

The Electricity Regulation Act (Act No. 4 of 2006) (ERA), states that no-one may operate any generation, transmission or distribution facility or trade, without a license issued by NERSA. The ERA Amended Schedule 2 Government Gazette, vol. 676 of 5 October 2021, clarifies that generation facilities with an installed capacity of less than 100 MW with a point of connection on the transmission or distribution power system are exempt from the requirement to hold a generation license but are required to be registered with both the distributor and NERSA.

Most municipalities now have policy and legislation (By-Laws) in place to oversee Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) methods, as applicable to generators. Generally, this legislation provides for municipal approval upon receipt of application, together with technical reports and drawings as well as electrical compliance certificates.

There are other pieces of legislation and standards applicable, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, specifically relating the handling, storage and utilization of diesel and the SANS standards need to be met.

Hence, it is important to obtain legal advice prior to the purchase and installation of a diesel generator – to ensure that you are compliant. Non-compliance can lead to the removal of a generator from site in some instances, and/or criminal penalty.

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