New rules introduced by energy regulator Ofgem to increase competition among distribution network operators (DNOs) could potentially help reduce the costs and speed up the process of electrical grid connection for businesses.
The code of practice which came into effect on 30 October requires DNOs to:
- Provide the same technical information, on the same timescales, to a competitor as it would to its own connection business
- Allow independent companies to determine where to connect
- Ensure engineer accreditation and authorisation applies across Great Britain. Designs produced by independent engineers will not have to be approved by the DNO
- Have a consistent inspection and audit regime for all connections (both those done in-house or by an independent company).
A requirement for DNOs to be more open about physical connection costs associated with so-called “non-contestable works”, such as the physical connection or upgrades to safety devices, will make such works contestable and also potentially help reduce costs, says Strutt & Parker’s Kieran Crowe.
As a result, farmers and landowners should have more say in where they connect to the network, be able to seek alternative costs for connections and get the process done quicker, he says. Previously it has been possible to get alternative costs for cables running from a generating system to the point of connection (POC), however the POC can be a significant part of overall connection charge, he adds.
“These changes will be felt in new connections which will help farmers/landowners developing sites. Infrastructure costs can make or break developments and it will be interesting to see if these new rules can breathe life into developments abandoned because of expensive connections.”