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A bright future for the energy sector in Tanzania?

The introduction of Net Metering rules


On 27 October 2017, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) enacted the Electricity (Net Metering) Rules. This is the frst time Tanzania has enacted laws to guide the legal framework in net metering and they look set to herald a revolution in small power projects in the Tanzania energy industry, with a massive increase in solar power generation. Along with the introduction of the Net Metering Rules, the Electricity (Development of Small Power Projects) Rules 2017 have been enacted to regulate small power projects in Tanzania. This article describes the impact of these new rules.

What is net metering?

Net metering is defned under the Net Metering Rules to mean: “measuring the difference between an imported and exported energy in kilowatt hours (kWh) over the applicable billing period”. Net metering allows business and individual customers generating their own electricity (off grid) through renewable energy to deliver and store the unused or excess energy in the local electric grid. Net metering facility, on the other hand, is defned as a facility that generates electricity from renewable resources with a nominal capacity to generate less than 1000kW and which is intended primarily to offset part or all of the net metering customer’s requirements for electricity.

How does net metering work?

When excess power is generated using renewable resources, the meter will run in reverse by crediting the excess power into the electric utility grid. The credited power is stored in the grid and in exchange, it can be pulled back from the grid when the renewable resources system is undergenerating. When this happens, excess power is drawn from the distribution network operator (DNO) just as if the net metering customer were not connected to a renewable resources power generation system. Therefore, net metering ensures availability of power, for example, at night when, if using solar power generation, the system is under-producing, or at any time when there is a shortage of solar power. Similarly, this may apply to wind power generation, where any defcit, for whatever reason, entitles the producer and consumer to draw the excess power from the DNO to which it is connected.

Net metering in Tanzania

EWURA is a statutory regulatory authority with the mandate to supervise the operation of net metering in Tanzania. The Net Metering Rules provide, among other things, connectivity procedures for a net metering facility, metering requirements, the billing process for the net metering, interconnection of net metering facilities, and a common interconnection agreement for net metering generating facilities. The technology used is a bi-directional meter capable of registering and displaying the direction and volume of electricity fowing in the two directions. Eligibility for net energy metering is on a frst-come, frst-served basis within each DNO service area until such time as the total rated generating capacity owned and operated by net-metering customers within the respective utility service area totals or would exceed 5% of the highest peak load during the previous calendar year. Under the Net Metering Rules, the DNO has the discretion to offer net metering beyond the prescribed levels if it deems it necessary to do so.

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