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Is your system legal? Capetonians have till 28 Feb 2019 to register their systems


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I though this should be in its own thread, under solar, as it affects all South African solar users.

Maybe not yet be outside of Cape Town, but note that Cape Town is/was the pilot site:
http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/rules-uncertainty-curbing-cape-towns-embedded-generation-enthusiasm-2016-04-15/rep_id:4136

Since 2010 it was law that all solar system must be registered in CPT, there was some confusion, till now. Here is the bylaw:
http://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Bylaws and policies/Electricity Supply By-law.pdf

And Cpt is pro-solar: http://www.capetown.gov.za/Family and home/Greener-living/Saving-electricity-at-home/Go-solar-in-the-home

Is it fair, well, yes it is.
1) It was law in 2010, we have till 28 Feb 2019.
2) It does affect the grid if everyone just does what they want, it affects peoples safety and it can affect your insurance.
3) And done properly, it can work very well.

Bad news: - the highlights
1) If you are grid-tie, you will need a engineer to sign off your system, after you got a CoC.  I got 2 quotes, both are +-R10k for a small system.
2) If your inverters is not on the CoCT list, your system will not be signed off and must be removed, or inverter must be replaced.
3) Some quotes I got, people where not interested in signing off work they did do themselves.

Good news - we have so far as PF:
1) If you are off-grid, like me, it is free. Just fill in the form, they then send someone to confirm you are indeed off-grid, and you are good to go.
2) Found a engineer that can do it in bands, per WATT. Drop me a PM. No, I don't make a cent.
3) Found a local electrician that can do a sign-off, but he and the engineer both are quite busy. So one needs to plan or look elsewhere.

CoCT was kind enough to send me this link: https://www.pvgreencard.co.za/reg/installers/inst-directory.php

 

Why now?
Yesterday this notice below came in from CoCT, by email, part of their newsletter.
Deduced to the most simple basics, it applies to all solar panels installed in Cape Town, and all connected generators.
And there is a deadline, with fines and removal of your system, if it one does not comply.

image.png.78428a6e576d4c9eeb46302730a55326.png

Here are the links as per the notice above:
http://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Forms, notices, tariffs and lists/PV Registration letter to customers_official.pdf

http://www.capetown.gov.za/work and business/commercial-utility-services/commercial-electricity-services/what-is-small-scale-embedded-generation/What is small-scale embedded generation?

http://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Apply/Municipal-services/Electricity/apply-for-authorisation-for-off-grid-or-standalone-sseg

http://www.capetown.gov.za/City-Connect/Apply/Municipal-services/Electricity/apply-for-authorisation-for-grid-tied-sseg

 

And it covers these areas, as far as I can deduce.

image.thumb.png.23a1a1600db91279d2dcb6c5608f1aa5.png

News even hit local newspaper:
In the Cape Community Paper, July 19 2018

image.thumb.png.5ae7033e9120af183101d2ddceaee660.png

 

 

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8 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

2) If your inverters is not on the CoCT list, your system will not be signed off and must be removed, or inverter must be replaced.

Not true. But it might take significantly more effort and cost to get it signed off. As I said yesterday, there are many types of systems that are not on the list -- and the application form even hints towards that in that it asks about the "Type of Energy Conversion (Eg: Synchronous generator)" on page 2 -- and you can get them signed off by involving the right person.

There are however many installers that will not touch a system that is not on the list, and even more who think the list itself is law.

TTT, do me a favour and when your new BEEF (best ever electrician friend) comes by, ask him about the Multiplus with a Ziehl device (which is NRS097-2 compliant), and also about what items they look at for sign-off (ie are they very strict in evaluating the entire DC side down to surge arrestors and isolators on the roof, as in Australia... or what?). Again, just as a guideline so one can make sure you have everything in place before getting the expensive guys over.

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7 minutes ago, plonkster said:

TTT, do me a favour and when your new BEEF (best ever electrician friend) comes by, ask him about the Multiplus with a Ziehl device (which is NRS097-2 compliant), and also about what items they look at for sign-off (ie are they very strict in evaluating the entire DC side down to surge arrestors and isolators on the roof, as in Australia... or what?). Again, just as a guideline so one can make sure you have everything in place before getting the expensive guys over.

Will do! Send you a PM with his details, for you may have more questions?

7 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Not true.

I stand corrected, just did not see how a engineer will sign off on a inverter that is not on the approved list, picked that up on a few conversations I had yesterday and the day before.

Unless the client is prepared to go at own cost to the likes of Bureau Veritas etc maybe?

For even though the engineer may fully understand it all, and the inverter, the risk is theirs if something goes wrong, and they cannot argue with a civil servant.

Therein my bold statement.

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2 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

just did not see how a engineer will sign off on a inverter that is not on the approved list

Many of them likely won't, to be on the safe side. But if you have the documentation to prove that you are NRS097-2-1 compliant, then you comply with the law and a suitable good engineer will sign it off. Again, it would be absurd to refuse based on the list when you comply with the law: That would imply the list has more power than the law itself ;-)

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18 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Many of them likely won't, to be on the safe side.
That would imply the list has more power than the law itself ;-)

EDIT: You are 100% correct, yet based on they ones I emailed who did not know the difference between grid-tied and off-grid ... qualified approved dealers ... safe side and lack of in-depth knowledge, o man we are in for a fun ride here on the forum.

Good news is as we learn more here, with gems like my BEEF and Mr S, gems, absolute gems, good people, we stand a chance.

Most probably Mr S will sign off a NRS097-2-1 compliant system.

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36 minutes ago, plonkster said:

NRS097-2-1

I see there is clear distinction between NRS 097-2-1: 2017, the new one, and NRS 097-2-1: 2010, the old one, on CoCT's list.

Is there a major change?

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2 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Is there a major change?

I don't know. I picked up between the lines that they made changes to be closer to VDE AR N 4105 (the newer German one) but don't quote me on it.

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For I see:
4. NRS 097-2-1: 2010 type test certification is accepted until 31 December 2018 or the specific expiry date of the accredited body certificate, if the date is before 31 December 2018. The commissioned inverter settings shall be in accordance with the new NRS 097-2-1: 2017 version.

5. All the existing NRS097-2-1: 2010 type tested inverters must be SANAS re-certified in accordance with NRS097-2-1: 2017 with effect from 1 January 2019, if the inverter is considered for an embedded generation application.

 

And here is the little titbit I picked up yesterday, in chatting about Axpert inverters (don't ask me why I did that, altruistic concern maybe): :D

6. All grid-tied hybrid inverters shall be equipped with a separate suitably interlocked change-over switch as specified in the Requirements for small scale embedded generation (SSEG) document. 

@SilverNodashi  see, we Blue Boys do think about you guys.

 

IF I understood correctly, and don't quote me on this, ask your own contacts as I will mine, if you have a suitably interlocked change-over switch fitted, then the Axpert may MAY be seen as a UPS, or even off-grid ... maybe. 

My off-grid system is seen as off-grid because there is no chance of Eskom or solar ever mixing, and that is because of the interlock.

That is also the route I am thinking to keep on going into the future, by keeping my system off-grid.

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4 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

IF I understood correctly, and don't quote me on this, ask your own contacts as I will mine, if you have a suitably interlocked change-over switch fitted, then the Axpert may MAY be seen as a UPS, or even off-grid ... maybe. 

Again, NRS097-2-1 distinguishes between inverters that can feed back and those that cannot. If my understanding is correct, then the only requirement for those that cannot feed back is that they must comply with whatever the relevant SANS code requires of a UPS. Whether the Axpert complies with any such code I do not know (but one would hope that they do).

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Latest Email in, from a registered solar installer:

Please let me have that engineers details . The guys around are ridiculous with their prices , and have a fixed rate starting at R 5000 - 00 , plus callout fees and travelling etc...Then I still have to do all the line diagrams for them .
According to the latest government gazette , published on the 6 June 2018 , all systems on or off grid , need to be registered with NERSA , and local municipalities , and COC issued . 
We have seen the municipality disconnecting the power to properties , especially in Table View / Milnerton area , because of unregistered systems. 
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Just in, Engineers cost for signing off a grid-tied system, this is fair.

Qualifications: Pr.Eng. , MSc. Eng (Electronics)
Fees:

Band 1: Fixed fee for systems smaller than 2.5kW: R 2 500 (R 2 875.00 incl)
Band 2: Above 2.5kW the cost is an additional R0.50c per Watt up to 10kW. (R 4 312.50 + R 2 875.00) 
Band 3: Per additional Watt above 10kW it lowers to R0.20c. (etc)
So a 10kw system would cost R 6 250 + VAT = R 7 187.50 incl VAT

Now that makes sense to me, not a flat R10k stock standard price irrespective of the size of the system, or whether it is on/off grid.
One still has to sort the CoC before engineer arrives.
If you want the details, PM me, for it is not a good idea to leave salient details wide open.
 
Note: Off-grid needs no engineers report, I quote CoCT email:
For an off grid system you need to complete the off grid declaration form attached and provide CoC. The City will investigate to determine if the system is off grid if so, provide an approval letter. There’s no need to appoint an Engineer for an off-grid system.
 
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CITY OF CAPE TOWN
 
24 JULY 2018
 
MEDIA ADVISORY
 
Small-scale embedded generation owners urged to register their systems
 
Over the past few years, the City of Cape Town has seen a rapid uptake of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) installations and encourages all home and business owners with these installations to register both grid-tied and off-grid small-scale embedded generation (SSEG) systems by 28 February 2019. Read more below:
 
Residents with SSEG systems are required to register and obtain authorisation in accordance with the City’s Electricity Supply By-law.
 
Connecting an SSEG system to the grid can pose a safety risk and, for this reason, the City must ensure that all generating equipment is approved and installed correctly.
 
It has taken some time for South Africa to develop national standards to connect SSEGs safely to the electricity grid. In the absence of national standards, the City has developed temporary standards to allow people to register for authorisation and connect safely. Since 2010 all small-scale embedded generation systems must be registered with the City.
 
With the finalisation of the national technical specifications, there is now growing clarity for the need for all SSEG owners to register their systems rather than obtain a generation licence from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). This registration is anticipated to become a national legal requirement.
 
As customers may not have been aware of the requirement to register and obtain authorisation for their SSEG, the City is proactively promoting registration and allowing a grace period for existing systems to be registered and authorised to ensure that all systems are compliant with the existing City by-law and the pending  national legal requirement.
 
To benefit from this grace period, property owners must register their SSEG system for authorisation with the City by 28 February 2019.
 
After the grace period, the City will be implementing a service fee for the disconnection of unauthorised SSEG connections. The supply of electricity to the property in question may be disconnected and will only be allowed to be reconnected once the City is satisfied that the SSEG system is either disconnected, decommissioned or authorised and that the service fee has been paid.
 
Customers registering their system during the grace period may continue to operate their system. This arrangement is based on the assumption that the system is compliant with the City’s requirements. If, during the registration and authorisation process, a system is found to be non-compliant it will need to be disconnected until such time as it is compliant and has received written authorisation from the City.
 
Once customers have registered their system, they have six months in which to demonstrate compliance and receive written authorisation from the City.
 
The City is proud to be a leader in SSEG and embraces the uptake of rooftop solar PV installations which contribute to our goal of a greener and cleaner city. We are however legally required to ensure that the electricity distributed to all of our consumers complies with set quality standards and that we also protect the City’s employees from inadvertent electrical shocks when working on the grid.
 
Connecting generators to the grid without obtaining the necessary authorisation can result in systems endangering the City’s staff and members of the public as no-one would be aware of the existence of the system or the influence that it could have on the grid. It could also interfere with quality of supply and electricity demand management. We really are fortunate in this city to have many customers who have invested in technology to not only save money but also to contribute to Cape Town’s electricity-saving efforts and we thank our customers for their cooperation during the registration process.
 
To ensure that the system is safe and legal:
 
·         All permanent grid-tied electricity generators in the area supplied directly by the City must be authorised in writing
·         Unauthorised generators that are grid-tied will be considered to be a form of tampering
·         Off-grid systems must also be registered so that they are not mistaken for grid-tied systems
 
Emergency equipment such as standby generators do not need to be registered unless they are synchronised or connected to the City’s electrical distribution network.
 
If customers would like to be credited for excess energy production they must please register for authorisation for a grid-tied feed-in system, install an AMI meter if they do not already have one and switch to the SSEG tariff. Running a meter backwards or feeding onto the grid without authorisation is not permitted.
 
To start the registration process, visit www.capetown.gov.za/solarpv.
 
For information on the City’s SSEG programme go to www.SavingElectricity.org.za.
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So this topic is sseg which refers to an installation feeding (i.e. selling electricity to the city) into the main grid.

So it is applicable only to people who are sure they can make some money from such an exercise.

I really would like to see such a spreadsheet based on current values.

My personal opinion is that any equipment connecting to the main supply without being synchronised will just explode.

So it can be a very expensive lesson.

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4 hours ago, Johandup said:

So it is applicable only to people who are sure they can make some money from such an exercise.

We debate the semantics here, see below. Want to keep this thread clean for information purpose.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Why would municipalities in an african level third world country climb on the bandwagon on imposing first world standards with such requirements? Sounds like carbon tax to me.

The one question I always pose to myself is:

Whats in it for me?

This question, unfortunately, is applicable to most situations you come across in this country.

I don't know the financial state of these municipalities, the state of their infrastructure or development and their future expansion plans. Also whether they have enough water now or in the future.

BUT I am pretty sure there must be must more important things to occupy their minds than this.

But then, we are pretty proficient at making meaningless rules and regulations as it is so much easier than sweating in the real world.

Btw, I see Cederberg is one of the towns under investigation by the "sparrows".

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3 hours ago, Johandup said:

Why would municipalities in an african level third world country climb on the bandwagon on imposing first world standards with such requirements?

I think the alternative, to say that because we are third world therefore we might as well accept lower standards, is even worse. Don't get me wrong, I do wonder why we need different standards (why not just use something like G83/G98 from the UK, which is pretty lenient actually), or why our standards seem to aim for German levels, and in combination: If you're aiming for something on par with VDE AR N 4105, why not just use that one itself? But in asking all these things, I still acknowledge that we need something, because this idea that since we are a sh*thole we might as well live like pigs... doesn't work for me :-)

3 hours ago, Johandup said:

Whats in it for me?

I think the more pressing question is whether the juice is worth the squeeze, to quote an old slapstickish movie. There is definitely something in it for everyone (free power!), but there is a cost to it in both financial terms and "rompslomp" as we say in Afrikaans. These things are always in balance: as the price goes up more people are willing to deal with the trouble of doing it legally (or the risk of doing it illegally), and then because of the market moving in this direction where more PV is installed legally or illegally, legislators then react again, possible in a mixed attempt to both keep things orderly AND to protect revenue streams. How the split comes across we can probably argue about all day.

4 hours ago, Johandup said:

This question, unfortunately, is applicable to most situations you come across in this country.

Aaah I see where you are going with this. Indeed, I like Trevor Noah's idea of reaching "functional corruption". Of course this is part of a comedy act, but lots of truth in that. You get corruption everywhere in the world, but what you want is functional corruption. If you get a tender to build ten bridges, build nine and steal one. In Africa they often build one (very poorly) and steal nine, and then charge toll fees for using that one bridge, leading very quickly to drivers asking, as you do, whether there really is something in this for them, or if they are just a cash cow.

4 hours ago, Johandup said:

BUT I am pretty sure there must be must more important things to occupy their minds than this.

Aaah like asking the cop who pulled you over for speeding if there isn't some murder he can go investigate instead? I think that's the trouble we are in: In a perfect world we do both, we don't prioritise. When there isn't enough resources (brains, money) to go around though, one get into these sorts of debates too often.

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Some of these regulations seem to go out of the way to be confusing. Terms such as grid connected and grid tie are used in a confusing manner. Our electric kettle and other appliances are indisputebly connected to the grid as are the mains inputs of my Axperts. But I fail to see how they can be grid tie inverters. Reading through the Swartland application form I came across one requirement that states that stand alone generators need not be registered. So I won't bother as the system surely cannot be defined as other than stand alone considering that it can only consume electric power from the grid, just like the kettle. Cape Town's requirement that such systems must be registered to prevent them being erroneously regarded as grid tie systems seems infantile. Or maybe it is just another hairbrained government job creation effort where meaningless efforts are persued at tax payer expense.

 

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38 minutes ago, ebrsa said:

Cape Town's requirement that such systems must be registered to prevent them being erroneously regarded as grid tie systems seems infantile

Not necessarily. I think they are blocking a loop-hole, that one where suddenly everyone claims their systems are off-grid. The registration of such systems costs nothing and cannot be regarded as onerous.

41 minutes ago, ebrsa said:

it can only consume electric power from the grid

When working as designed, yes. The concern here is whether there is ever a possibility that it might not work as designed. The topology is bi-directional. Unless proven otherwise, a simple software bug, damaged relay can cause it to energise its input from the batteries. It might not energise it with clean AC energy, in fact I would expect just the reverse, that it would energise it with high voltage DC instead.

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1 hour ago, ebrsa said:

But I fail to see how they can be grid tie inverters.

COCT only have themselves to blame. They use a term like grid-tied which has definite meaning. They are trying to assign their interpretation which does include systems grid-tied  but includes systems that are patently not grid-tied They should have used the term "grid connected" and everyone would understand.

Even if Cape Town is our best run city I not holding out for a correction. I have enough experience of officialdom that the starting stance is "You are wrong and we are right". During my army I corrected  our captain (it had to do with the speed of sound - 330m/s nowdays quoted as 343m/s). My reward was a 2km jog with some arbitrary bits of steel. The one consolation I did not have to listen to him mangle Boyle's contribution to physics.

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9 minutes ago, Chris Hobson said:

Cape Town is our best run city

There are those who will disagree with you :-) There is a whole crowd operating on facebook as "Stop COCT - Dear Cape Town" who thinks Cape Town cannot do anything right!

:-)

While I do understand their reasons for doing things... it is also true that my municipal bill is about three times what it was a mere 8 years ago. Some of it has to do with the increase in property values, but it is still significantly above inflation and a little bit of asking them to slow down a bit and perhaps consider that their "rich" citizens don't have botomless pockets either is probably completely justified.

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I did not want this thread to get all messed up ... asked so nicely. @Chris Hobson , can you move the post to the other thread, one I put above?

 

A attorney sat and listened to a conversation where someone asked me about the Multiplus and grid tied = grid connected = DB board connected ... whatever blows your whistle.

He made one comment. It makes sense, what they are trying to do, as the laws have been in place for a very long time, solar just a new connection. Thing is, he said, if you don't do it right, best you have some funds available for the court case/cases if something goes wrong and they come for you.

For as you said Chris, you cannot argue with officialdom.

I have no problem with what they are doing. From where I sit and watch, there are a huge amount of DIY's out there whom have no official training nor qualification that has been doing as they please (yours truly included). Then you have the fly by night "experts", and then the bad apples ito qualified professionals.

The regs is already in place all over SA, i.e. connecting anything to the grid / DB board, nothing new. ALL OVER SA.

The fact that it is not yet enforced by your local supplier / Eskom, does not make it less legal, as you are saying Plonkster.

So toughen up you bunch of Cupcakes, and do it right. Check your local regulations / Eskom if they supply you. Ball is in your court.

 

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4 hours ago, ebrsa said:

Reading through the Swartland application form I came across one requirement that states that stand alone generators need not be registered.

If you have Municipal or Eskom feed and you connect a generator to your DB board to supply your house, there are clear cut regulations around that, and that included computers rooms running on generator backup power.

All sparkies installing them, knows the regulations inside out. Never shall the generator ever feed power back to the grid. Must be separate, like my interlock, therein the use of UPS'es till the generator is up to speed.

The grid is a national resource, regulated by i.e. NERSA et al. Your beef should be with them, not CoCT.

If however you have no Eskom whatsoever, you can do as you please, i.e. with or without a CoC.

Why register off-grid panels? Because they are visible it saves MY taxes in that officials don't have to waste time to knock on doors to check each system. To register a off-grid system is free. Having that off-grid system powering select circuits in your home, you need a CoC for that.

The day we want to sell our homes with our DIY / no CoC in place, that is the day the chickens come home to roost. 

 

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The day you have a claim that requires a CoC to be presented, is the day the games begin. Insurers are / have wizened up.

Insurers can  / will send a registered Sparky to inspect and view the CoC. You have none, they can repudiated your claim when your house burns down and the cause was electrical, and there is no CoC for the additions. That is assuming no one died or got hurt, then we can have the book thrown at us.

Sparky I spoke to recently told me the story where a house burnt down. He was sent out to check the house electrical side.
Cause: No fuse on a newly installed sound system in the home owners car.
Pos wire shorted on the firewall, there was no protection so the plastic chaved on raw edges of the drilled hole. And because of no fuse, it set the car alight, in turn the house went up in flames. They traced it all the way, he said, as it was a huge claim.
Installer of the sound system was the home / car owners son.
Claim was repudiated on both the house and car, all because of the lack of a 50c fuse.

Ja, there are some questions about the above version of events, point is, when the troubles hit, they do want to know what happened and why, could if have been averted. Therein the regulations.

It is all about standardization, to know what to expect, to protect the person working on your electrical systems, the fire-brigade housing your house or climbing on your roof, to hold to those who blatantly take shortcuts to save a few bucks, responsible.

... AND the protection of others when, like in my case, I am not here, that anyone can understand and see what is going on, as it is done to a set standard laid down by experienced engineers and specialists. People who have trained for this.

We are so fast to say one must pay for experienced trained highly qualified electrical engineers, but when it hits our pockets, we bleet like sheep taken to slaughter.

If we don't like it, we can go off-grid and be done with it all. The electrical grid in SA is a national resource, and must be protected. Two wrongs don't make a right.

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6 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

to hold to those who blatantly take shortcuts to save a few bucks, responsible.

A long long time ago, I was sitting at a camp fire listening to a sermon, as us religious folks sometimes do, and I vividly recall that it was about three generations (the names of the relevant kings elude me), but the basic premise was that the grandfather was a good man, the father was sort of middle of the road guy, and the son was an outright bastard. The message was that if you don't take important things seriously, then in time via a gradual acceptance of a lesser standard you end up in a really bad place. A lot of the regulations probably takes these important things too seriously, but that is probably precisely to cut down on the bastard-jobs on the other end of the spectrum. Of course it becomes a real pain for the good-enoughers in the middle.

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