Critical new electricity laws one step closer to reality for South Africa

 ·19 Sep 2023

The Portfolio Committee on Mineral Ressources and Energy has opened two bills for public comment, including the Electricity Regulation Amendment (ERA) Bill.

Alecia Pienaar and Margo-Ann Werner from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said that the ERA Bill could be the most essential piece of legislation for South Africa’s transition from a centralised electricity market to a more open, competitive model.

It aims to amend the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006 through the following:

  • To delete, amend and insert certain definitions; to provide for the application of the Act;

  • To provide for the National Energy Regulator to consider applications for licences and the issue of licences;

  • To provide for revocation and deregistration of licences;

  • To provide for additional electricity, new generation capacity and electricity infrastructure;

  • To provide for the establishment, duties, powers and functions of the Transmission System Operator and transitional measures;

  • To provide for an open market platform that allows for competitive electricity trading;

  • To assign the duties, powers and functions of the Transmission System Operator to the National Transmission Company South Africa;

  • To provide for delegation and assignment; to provide for offences and penalties; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Nuclear laws

The committee also opened up the National Nuclear Regulator Amendment Bill for public comment.

This seeks to amend the National Nuclear Regulator Act of 1999 through the following:

  • To substitute certain definitions and insert new definitions; to authorise the regulator to perform additional regulatory functions;

  • To provide for conditions applicable to the transfer of responsibility for authorised activities;

  • To provide for additional powers of inspectors; to provide for financial provision for costs associated with safe rehabilitation or decommissioning of nuclear facilities; to provide for administrative fines;

  • To provide for the establishment of the National Dose Register;

  • To provide for a centralised database of radiation workers; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Concerns over the ERA

Although the ERA Bill is crucial for South Africa’s energy transition, the process has been hit with several delays

“In light of the energy crisis, the Presidency previously committed to expedite the Bill.

“Despite this, it was only approved by Cabinet for introduction to Parliament in March 2023, with further delays experienced to get it formally and properly tabled,” Pienaar and Werner said.

“Though there are still calls for the ERA Bill to be fast-tracked, it is unclear how or if this will be achieved.”

The Bill still has to go through the conditional legislative process before it can be enacted, with the Bill still needing to go through the National Assembly, Selecto Committee, the National Council of Provinces and the President.

If the ERA Bill is not finished by the end of this Parliament’s term, it will fall away and need to be revived.

“Failure to prioritise the ERA Bill before the 2024 election year could thus present the risk of further significant delays,” the experts said.

Those who would like to make public comments on the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill and the National Nuclear Regulator Amendment Bill will have to do so by Friday, 13 October 2023 by contacting [email protected]. The Bills can be found below:

Read: Big changes for inverters and solar in Cape Town next month

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter