Two big problems with ZESA’s net metering program

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
Solar panels, ZESA net metering, Zimbabwe, off-grid

Last year, then Minister for Energy Fortune Chasi announced in a tweet that ZESA was undertaking a solar net metering program. The system would allow those who wanted to participate a way of supplementing the electricity shortfall in the country by feeding excess power they made from their private solar onto the national grid.

The upshot for doing this is that you would earn ZESA credits. According to Statutory Instrument 86 of 2018, for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of power you feed into the grid you would receive 0.9kWh for the billing period. You won’t earn any money unfortunately from ZESA’s net metering. The credits you earn will go against your ZESA bill.

This means that your electricity will be cheaper whenever you recharge or when you pay your post-paid bill. Application for the net metering program does come at a cost though according to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company’s (ZETDC) website

Please Note that The Application Fees for those who want to join the Net Metering Project are as follows:

Domestic Customers                                          ZWL    607.00

Industrial, Commercial, Agriculture                ZWL  1215.00

Connection fees shall be determined upon submission of ENM2 forms when customer engages the depot. The connection fees shall vary with the type of connection


However, in SI 86 of 2018 the following fees are listed:

Form Fee US$
Application for ParticipationENM120.00
Application for interconnectionENM25.00
Electronic copy of the register5.00
Hard copy of the register1.00 per page
Appeal FeeFC125.00

Why is there an application fee?

Application fees at every turn are the government’s calling card. One would expect that the cost would only come at acquiring the bi-directional meter and maybe installation. Anyone who has solar will know that it doesn’t come cheap, unless if you have bags of money or you have saved up over time to go completely off-grid.

For this to make sense for anyone who has invested in a solar installation, they will have to, at some point, break-even. This is considering that consistent solar energy production is not the most straightforward thing. Weather, the positioning of the panels and other factors play a massive role in how efficient your system will be.

You won’t be producing peak power all the time and if you are asked to shell out money at entry, the cost of application for net metering, the investment you’ve made on your installation and ZESA connection fees then is it even worth it for a homeowner with a mid-level setup?

There should be more freedom with how a customer uses their earned credits

SI 86 of 2018, detailed the compensation process for ZESA’s net metering but it looks like the benefits are just for that meter. There is no option to transfer the credits to a linked account/meter for example. If you could offset the costs of your parents, family or friend’s electricity bill then that would be a massive plus. For some, the reward of this would make the investment of solar installation worth it even if they aren’t getting anything from it directly.

Now, that being said there will have to be a limit on the number of accounts linked. Zimbabwe is the sort of place where a black market for ZESA credits could become a thing. And we all know how our government responds to parallel markets. Although in a perfect world it wouldn’t be an issue for anyone to sell their credits to whomever they wished. But our reality is far from perfect.

There’s still time for ZESA to address these problems

The program looks to be in its relative infancy which means they can still enact these changes. If they want to make this worth it for Zimbabweans they have to add value to the program.

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  1. Imi vanhu musadaro

    They don’t want to pay you money for your power, otherwise you could easily then setup a solar farm cutting through all the red tape of becoming an independent power producer. Instead, the people should suffer load shedding whilst those who were granted licences just wait for investors to come.

  2. Zesa hawk

    A few questions
    1. Are Zesa actually crediting customers after they have supplied power into the grid?
    2. Has it been considered that bone would need a smart inverter? that way the power could by pass your batteries and go directly into the grid; resulting in less work load for your batteries and a longer life span $$$.
    3. Why is it that Zesa take 10% of the power supplied for free? “every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of power you feed into the grid you would receive 0.9kWh”

  3. Zesa hawk

    a few questions:
    1. Do Zesa actually credit you or just say they do?
    2. Why do Zesa take 10% of power supplied for free? “every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of power you feed into the grid you would receive 0.9kWh”
    3. For less load on your batteries, one would have to spend more on a smart inverter so power could by pass the batteries and go directly into the grid.

  4. Hugh Jarse

    There’s no mention, ANYWHERE, in zesa’s blurb on how your solar system is protected from power surges, lightning etc! In addition, they won’t help with costs of replacement of batteries, solar panels, etc. if they are damaged from a surge, hail, or theft of same! It’s additional cost to whoever takes part in this scam, with no obvious benefit to you, the supplier!

  5. Themba Kumbula

    Boss so how does net metering work?

    1. Do we still buy prepaid Zesa, and the net is off monthly/or per every recharge cycle and zerorise the reading

    2. Does Zesa remove prepaid system and install a post paid meter, and at what point do they net it,

    3. If its post paid, and my bill comes and I go swipe to Zesa does the meter zerorise after Zesa confirms reciept

    4. If it doesn’t zerorise how does Zesa credit me for the payments made to zesa say through rtgs transfer or swipe

    5. Do they start sending the old meter readers or the system is connected and Zesa can view the usage remotely, and what the billing(netting) start and cut off point?

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