New electricity meters for Pretoria

The City of Tshwane (CoT) will soon start offering substantially cheaper bidirectional electricity meters for feeding excess power back to the grid.

The metro told MyBroadband it would adopt bidirectional meters that cost about a quarter to a third of the current meters’ prices from 1 July 2024 — the start of its financial year.

These meters are set to be priced between R2,500 and R3,500. The final prices remain to be confirmed and will vary depending on the meters’ functionality and supplier costs.

The city’s ball-park figures are already a substantial improvement over the current R10,232 for a single-phase meter and R12,552 for a three-phase meter.

With Tshwane paying residents a tariff of R0.81 per kWh of fed-in power, a single-phase home would have needed to feed in 12,632kWh to make up for the cost of the meter.

An entry-level solar system with six solar panels in Gauteng can produce around 500kWh to 600kWh per month under ideal sunshine conditions.

A small household with a consumption of 450kWh will only be able to feed back a maximum of 150kWh to the grid in a month.

At that rate, it will take 84 months — or about seven years — to make up for the cost of the meter.

With the new meter prices, the costs could be made up with 3,086kWh of excess power.

At the same rate of 150kWh excess power per month, that could be produced in about 20 months, less than two years.

Only for electricity credits — not cash

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis holding the new meter and a light.

Tshwane’s move comes shortly after the City of Cape Town (CoCT) approved a more affordable bidirectional meter priced at R6,043, compared to its previous price of R10,508.

The one advantage Cape Town offers over Tshwane and most other municipalities with feed-in support is the ability to earn cash for extra power.

That means that even those who do not use any of the city’s electricity can be rewarded for providing power to the grid.

Those in Tshwane can only earn a credit on their electricity bill, which means your grid consumption determines the maximum savings.

For example, if you consume around 100kWh from the grid during a month on the prepaid tariff, your electricity bill will typically be about R282 per month at R2.82 per kWh.

Feeding back 150kWh at R0.81 per kWh will earn you R121.50 in electricity credits, bringing your bill down to R160.50.

Repeated monthly savings of R121.50 will cover the cost of the meter over about 20 months, not taking tariff adjustments into account.

However, if you use just 30kWh, your electricity bill will currently be R84.60. Even if you produce the same amount of excess solar worth R121.50 to the city, your savings will be capped at R84.60.

That will extend the payback period for the meter by roughly another nine months.

Any energy fed back after the value of the consumption is reached will effectively be donated to the city.

The reduction will likely still be a boon to households that consume a moderate amount of grid electricity and have a system big enough to partially or completely offset that usage.

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New electricity meters for Pretoria