Easing the Stress and Hassle of New Connections and Site Works

by 20 December 2018

The process of utility site works and connections can be complicated and time consuming. It’s a large project in itself and can be a detailed pedantic activity to have to do, not to mention if you are taking it on as an individual running a business.

When arranging a new connection or service alteration (capacity upgrades, diversions etc) there will often be strict deadlines that need to be met along with potential financial implications for not doing so. Most people tend to approach the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to quote for all of the works to the point of connection.

What are DNO’s? Ofgem describes them; ‘Electricity distribution networks carry electricity from the high voltage transmission grid to industrial, commercial and domestic users. There are 14 licensed distribution network operators (DNOs) in Britain and each is responsible for a regional distribution services area.’ DNO’s in England include Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid, Scottish and Southern Energy, SP Energy Networks, UK Power Networks, Western Power Distribution and more.

It is fair to say that those involved in the energy industry appreciate that the DNO’s have a huge responsibility to protect the network they are responsible for and carry a huge workload. They receive lots of applications and produce quotes in a pre-agreed timeframe, normally 6 – 8 weeks. If instructed, the DNO will quote the cost of your contract and payment is required in advance. You will then wait a further 6-8 weeks (sometimes longer depending on the project) for work to commence. The costs that the DNOs quote are heavily regulated so they remain consistent and fair. Due to the heavy regulations imposed the timeframes and cost boundaries are strict and generally fixed.

This process is perfect if you are working with long term deadlines, however most companies find that they are not dealt such preferential circumstances and have harsh deadlines which far from lend themselves to such timescales. Looking at alternatives to this process makes it possible to not only reduce the cost of a project but to also work with more flexibility. By using independent contractors through each stage of the process and making your own arrangements for civil works, planning applications such as road closures, traffic management and point of connection you will be dealing with organisations that are competing in an open market and in most instances are smaller than the local DNO. This allows for more competitive prices and a reduction in costs to the customer.

The obvious downside to this approach is that a certain degree of project management is required, including sourcing all the contractors, liaising with suppliers, sending applications to various networks, obtaining quotes, allocating the appropriate meter information and more. At Utility Team we have developed relationships with independent contractors and Independent Connection Providers (ICP’s) to offer nationwide coverage. We effectively manage the process from start to finish, creating a stress-free process for the customer. We specialise and succeed in working to deadlines that would be unrealistic to most other providers.

To conclude we would always recommend that a quote be sourced from your DNO firstly, but with the number of independent energy cost management providers growing year on year perhaps it is time to look at genuine alternatives that provide sound results. Flexibility, time management and cost reduction are valuable commodities, make sure you are putting them in the hands of experienced professionals.

If you need assistance with your new connections or site works, we can help, contact us at your earliest convenience via phone 02476 997901 or email: enquiries@utilityteam.co.uk

 

Article written by: James Hughes, Senior Energy Consultant