Ban on geysers, pools, office air-con...

Ban on geysers, pools, office air-con CommercialBan on geysers, pools, office air-con Realestateweb reporterSound ridiculous? Have a look at draconian draft law aimed at easing national power crisis – property industry alert.

If you thought the national power shortage crisis couldn't produce any more surprises, think again.

Some government officials would like to see a prohibition on electric geysers without a solar heating facility in new dwellings valued at more than R750 000 or that are bigger than 300m².

The signs are also there that electricity-generated swimming pool pumps, office air conditioners, heating and cooling systems in buildings and incandescent lighting are set to be "no-nos" for those who want to avoid stiff penalties.

That's the upshot of the electricity regulations published last month by the Department of Minerals and Energy.

The South African Property Owners' Association (Sapoa), which represents many of the country's biggest landlords and developers, isn't happy about the regulations.

The organisation's members like the idea of having regulations, but in their current draft form they are confusing and vague.

One industry figure told Realestateweb that, "with respect", the regulations look like a "knee-jerk reaction" and appear as notes put together rather than a document that has been carefully drafted by legal experts.

In a statement on Monday, Sapoa chief executive officer Neil Gopal said the organisation supports the intention of the proposed regulations but believes the "tone of the regulations is unnecessarily negative".

"A positive incentive would be more effective in encouraging good consumer behaviour," he said.

"Sticking points" identified by Sapoa in the draft regulations include:

  • A section that refers to the management of lighting. There are prohibitions on incandescent lighting, the lighting of unoccupied buildings, and on street and highway lighting during daylight hours.

Sapoa's legal services manager Tsakane Shilubane noted that the regulations don't provide a good definition of energy-efficient alternatives to incandescent lighting, nor do they specify when the lighting of unoccupied buildings should be limited - particularly where security is a concern. The regulations also don't address whether street lights will be permitted in winter when days are shorter, said Shilubane.

  • Prohibitions on an electric geyser without solar heating in homes of more than R750 000. "We believe this is very vague and requires clearer explanation," said Shilubane.
  • The differentiation between residential and commercial properties "is another factor that requires greater clarity for the regulations to be effective", he said.

Sapoa supports a "more nuanced approach to electricity tariffs" to promote demand-side management.

"Implementing by-laws at a municipal level is also something that we believe is worth further consideration to reinforce demand-side management at the local level," said the organisation.

Irritating some industry players is that the Department of Minerals and Energy only gave South Africa about two weeks to comment on the regulations.

In addition, there is the feeling that there should be a more co-ordinated, centralised approach to developing legislation aimed at helping South Africa cope with the power crisis.

Ompi Aphane, contact person at the Department of Minerals and Energy, for the regulations did not respond to a request for an interview, but said through a secretary that comments would still be received although the deadline is stipulated as 25 February.

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