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Ethekweni update


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Hi all.

This question mostly applies to users who are in the greater Durban area and are on Ethekweni billing.

I have an 8kw Sunsynk,6kw of panels and 3 x Hubble am2 and am a household of 1 so my average monthly kw/h bill was about 480 kwh per month.I use my system to its max and from my sunsynk data my daily import from eskom is about 3 or 4 kw if that.For the last 4 months my bill has been only estimated and about 3 weeks ago the meters were actually read but my bill that came yesterday STILL only had estimated.I am wondering if others are finding this and if Ethekweni are just ignoring the actual readings and will keep on billing us solar users at estimated rates as a form of punishment for minimal use.

I would be curious to hear from others

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TIP:
1) Take regular photos of your meter for evidence.
2) Confirm that the meter number on your account matches the physical meter.
I had an issue where my readings were estimated for extended period as the meter number had disappeared from my bill.
The metro changed the physical meter (I did not even notice as I was at work). I struggled to get them to reconcile my account.
To make things worse, the new bill meter number did not correspond with new physical meter number - I was paying someone else's meter.
Once the issue was resolved, I switched to prepaid.
3) Switch to prepaid
4) Unless allowed, make sure you not grid-feeding as some meters will count this as usage
 

Edited by system32
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6 minutes ago, system32 said:

TIP:
1) Take regular photos of your meter for evidence.
2) Confirm that the meter number on your account matches the physical meter.
I had an issue where my readings were estimated for extended period as the meter number had disappeared from my bill.
The metro changed the physical meter (I did not even notice as I was at work). I struggled to get them to reconcile my account.
To make things worse, the new bill meter number did not correspond with new physical meter number - I was paying someone else's meter.
Once the issue was resolved, I switched to prepaid.
3) Switch to prepaid
4) Unless allowed, make sure you not grid-feeding as some meters will count this as usage
 

Thanks for the info.My usage until now ( since I have had my system) has been consistant .I set export on my inverter to test if the meter was correctly asigned to my unit and it did wind the meter back so that side is working correctly.I shall wait for the next bill which should have the reading and see what they do.My bill is only about R850 pm which is the estimated so its more the principle than anything else.

Edited by Nicholas Strachan
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2 minutes ago, Kevin Lourens said:

We send our readings in, we give the meter guy the reading "when" the come yet we are still getting billed a average.

Seems we are not being billed for our correct usage. I think pre paid is the way to go.

I have explored the meter option and was told that it will cost me about R3200 which is not an issue but can take up to a year to be installed.Others in my complex sent in meter readings but to no avail as nothing really changed as they just continued using estimated.I am tempted to toss on another 6 panels and go off grid by being disconnected.

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Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Also check the dates on your bill. Billing always lags by at least a month. Your lower readings may still be coming.

Here in Jhb, on the default package, there are fixed fees of about R700 per month. People don't spot this unless they read each line of the bill*. Mostly they just pay the total outstanding without breaking it down to see what it's made of.

Anyhoo... this situation has played out several times in my neighbourhood. 
1) Get solar installed
2) Next month's bill is the usual amount, you understand that
3) Second month's bill is still round about what you used to pay. Ok... things take time.
3) Third month you are still paying over R700! 
4) You conclude that this is the ANC taxing solar owners.

But it's not. It's just that you're still on the default tariff, and those flat charges apply whether you use no electricity or whether you use 1 a megawatt hour a month.

So, does eThekwini apply any flat charges? If they do, then those aren't going to go away.

Check out the prepaid tariffs. That usually saves money in the long run, and the dreaded estimated readings don't apply.


* Once they understand how their electricity bill is made up, they usually get very interested in switching to pre-paid.

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15 minutes ago, Bobster. said:

Check out the prepaid tariffs. That usually saves money in the long run, and the dreaded estimated readings don't apply.

I note that as per the current tariffs, pre-paid and credit accounts in eThekweni pay exactly the same rate per kWh. TOU customers have a varying rate, and a flat fee of R180 odd. So the scenarios I sketched out don't apply.

Edited by Bobster.
Forgot to add link
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After being a suspect of theft post my solar implementation it took about 6 months and I was migrated to pre-paid without ever asking for it.
Fortunately the guys that did the pre-paid installation also advised me that I should check which tariff plan I am on.
It was then that I for the first time searched for this tariff A and B docs.
Turns out that the default had been Tariff B forever, which has a flat base fee and then a fixed R2,94 per kWh whilst Tariff A is for low consumption users (less than 600kWh) at R2 per kWh which doubles and triples should you exceed it. Becomes something like R10 a kWh above 850kWh. 
Could have saved thousands over the years as my average has always been 200-300kWh per month. 
Off I went to the Municipality, filled in the form to migrate to Tariff A on the pre paid. This was actioned on their system whilst I waited. Now there is zero base fee and I charge my pre paid with R100 every 2 or 3 months for desperate times when I really need to supplement marginal solar. One is compelled to charge the account at least once in 3 months.
At least I have them off my back. Municipal account is devoid of any header containing "Electricity"

 

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2 hours ago, Bobster. said:

Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Also check the dates on your bill. Billing always lags by at least a month. Your lower readings may still be coming.

Here in Jhb, on the default package, there are fixed fees of about R700 per month. People don't spot this unless they read each line of the bill*. Mostly they just pay the total outstanding without breaking it down to see what it's made of.

Anyhoo... this situation has played out several times in my neighbourhood. 
1) Get solar installed
2) Next month's bill is the usual amount, you understand that
3) Second month's bill is still round about what you used to pay. Ok... things take time.
3) Third month you are still paying over R700! 
4) You conclude that this is the ANC taxing solar owners.

But it's not. It's just that you're still on the default tariff, and those flat charges apply whether you use no electricity or whether you use 1 a megawatt hour a month.

So, does eThekwini apply any flat charges? If they do, then those aren't going to go away.

Check out the prepaid tariffs. That usually saves money in the long run, and the dreaded estimated readings don't apply.


* Once they understand how their electricity bill is made up, they usually get very interested in switching to pre-paid.

Thanks for all the replies.My billing structure from Ethekweni hasnt changed in 5  years and there arent built in fixed fees like a direct eskom customer has.

As you said one expects a reduction in the monthly bill but I shall wait until next months bill and see what happens.

The gist of it IF they arent  billing us correctly then I shall save my batteries and use eskom as normal and my system covers me during load shedding.

Pre paid here is not an option but some beefing up of my system and then maybe getting disconnected might be an option.I resent paying for such incompetance.

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In tandem with my post about estimated readings,I went to my local ethekweni office and asked why I am continually on estimated despite my meter being read 3 to 4 weeks ago.

The gent called someone in billing and because I am a low user due to solar I was informed that i will be continually billed on estimated UNLESS I go to Pinetown and register my solar and apply for a special meter.I double checked with the gent who was helpful, so there we have it.An unoffical punishment for spending R200 000 ,the next question is do i bother and bring myself to their attention. Food for thought if you live in Kzn

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22 hours ago, Nicholas Strachan said:

my daily import from eskom is about 3 or 4 kw if that.

Sorry for the tangent, but how are you importing that much power every day, with that much solar and that much storage?

500kWh / month is about 17kWh a day. With my 5.5kW array I get about 15-20kW a day, and my solar sits idle for half the time. 

With 15+ kWh of storage, you should have more than enough to take you through the night. I import between 1-3kWh a day, mostly during midnight and sunrise when my 10kWh storage is at 50% and I don't allow any more discharge. Only the fridges and some outdoor lights are on at that time. 

Unless you are doing some really heavy-duty power consumption during the night?

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21 minutes ago, suds7162 said:

Sorry for the tangent, but how are you importing that much power every day, with that much solar and that much storage?

500kWh / month is about 17kWh a day. With my 5.5kW array I get about 15-20kW a day, and my solar sits idle for half the time. 

With 15+ kWh of storage, you should have more than enough to take you through the night. I import between 1-3kWh a day, mostly during midnight and sunrise when my 10kWh storage is at 50% and I don't allow any more discharge. Only the fridges and some outdoor lights are on at that time. 

Unless you are doing some really heavy-duty power consumption during the night?

It averages out to that as when the maid is there the consumption goes up.Those are approx figures.i have just posted an update on the general discussion and we are getting shafted here in ethekweni as solar users.

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In tandem with my post about estimated readings,I went to my local ethekweni office and asked why I am continually on estimated despite my meter being read 3 to 4 weeks ago.

The gent called someone in billing and because I am a low user due to solar I was informed that i will be continually billed on estimated UNLESS I go to Pinetown and register my solar and apply for a special meter.I double checked with the gent who was helpful, so there we have it.An unoffical punishment for spending R200 000 ,the next question is do i bother and bring myself to their attention. Food for thought if you live in Kzn

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That makes ZERO sense. The "special" meter is only in the case where you are backfeeding in to the grid, and I assume you are not doing that.

Talk to your local councilor/representative.

If they want to implement a fixed network charge (called a sun tax by some in this forum), then they can do that. But charging you for a service you are not using is surely not legal.

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44 minutes ago, suds7162 said:

That makes ZERO sense. The "special" meter is only in the case where you are backfeeding in to the grid, and I assume you are not doing that.

Talk to your local councilor/representative.

If they want to implement a fixed network charge (called a sun tax by some in this forum), then they can do that. But charging you for a service you are not using is surely not legal.

I have emailed my councillor this morning.I spoke to a lawyer friend who said unless there is legislation/laws passed allowing that then its illegal.I am not feeding back into the grid as i have an old school meter and not a bi directional one.I might take trip down to Pinetown and chat to them and see what is happening.They did not know that i have solar so its clearly those who use minimal electricity who are getting drilled.I am going to make zero effort to save eskom usage as am paying for it anyway.

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37 minutes ago, Nicholas Strachan said:

I have emailed my councillor this morning.I spoke to a lawyer friend who said unless there is legislation/laws passed allowing that then its illegal.I am not feeding back into the grid as i have an old school meter and not a bi directional one.I might take trip down to Pinetown and chat to them and see what is happening.They did not know that i have solar so its clearly those who use minimal electricity who are getting drilled.I am going to make zero effort to save eskom usage as am paying for it anyway.

I just want to say that this is par for the course, and anybody switching to solar should expect this.

Municipalities monitor meter readings. They get an idea of what a property should use each month. The moment there is a significant downwards deviation from that it raises a red flag on their system. They should not presume anything, but they know that the usage has dropped. There may be an innocent explanation, or it may be that the meter has been bridged. It may be that the meter is defective. Etc. At that point they should investigate.

After I had solar installed I started getting visits from City Power. They always asked to check my meter, and I didn't mind them doing that. They satisfied themselves that nothing untowards was going on.

This happens even if you are on pre-paid. 

This doesn't make anything that has happened to Nicholas acceptable, but anybody switching to solar should anticipate some reaction from the municipality/Eskom.  And I suppose if your meter is not inside your property, you may not know what they do and when they do it.

Edited by Bobster.
grammar
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2 hours ago, suds7162 said:

That makes ZERO sense. The "special" meter is only in the case where you are backfeeding in to the grid, and I assume you are not doing that.

Talk to your local councilor/representative.

If they want to implement a fixed network charge (called a sun tax by some in this forum), then they can do that. But charging you for a service you are not using is surely not legal.

Special could also mean a prepaid meter if you are still on an old turn meter. It might mean bi-directional because there is Solar. 

I am so happy that no estimate is used when meters are read. 

Also just an excuse to estimate what the area normally use. This normal got me to get refunds every 3 months when they read some 3 yrs ago. It meant that after 3 months after reading I actually had a credit for that month. 

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A cautionary for coj residents-

TLDR:

don't save extra units in your prepaid meter.

 

Citypower in Joburg recently changed my Landis gyr prepaid meter, 6 months after I added solar. I have limit to load and zero export set on my inverter.

The Citypower subcontractor arrived without notice stating they had to change to a more sensitive itron meter which detects tampering. I had built up over 1000kwh over many months in anticipation of higher winter demand even though we only use a trickle feed on sunny days. Despite the subcontractor promising a next day refund voucher, and being sent picture evidence of solar backup and meter LCD display showing 1000kwh,  all I have received is a WhatsApp message from Citypower stating my requested refund doesn't match my recent buying pattern. No amount of fault logging or mailing regional revenue department has helped.  

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10 hours ago, zathras said:

A cautionary for coj residents-

TLDR:

don't save extra units in your prepaid meter.

 

Citypower in Joburg recently changed my Landis gyr prepaid meter, 6 months after I added solar. I have limit to load and zero export set on my inverter.

The Citypower subcontractor arrived without notice stating they had to change to a more sensitive itron meter which detects tampering. I had built up over 1000kwh over many months in anticipation of higher winter demand even though we only use a trickle feed on sunny days. Despite the subcontractor promising a next day refund voucher, and being sent picture evidence of solar backup and meter LCD display showing 1000kwh,  all I have received is a WhatsApp message from Citypower stating my requested refund doesn't match my recent buying pattern. No amount of fault logging or mailing regional revenue department has helped.  

They are desperate on all fronts and this is just another way that they are stealing from us.I am so tempted to buy another battery which would give me 22kw of battery power and 6 more panels and be done with them and disconnect from the grid.

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A friend in Durban North who has ha decent system has just told me that he got his Ethekweni bill.His usage normally is about R2500 pm but with his solar system it now dropped to R1700 pm BUT they read his meter,gave him the actual figure owing BUT then beefed up the amount owing to what his estimated was for the last 4 months which is what they have done to me.He is a lawyer in a major firm and is taking this further.The evidence is there that in some municipalities they are gouging us solar users.

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