Electricity distribution connections – a short guide

Sam Thompson, 27th March, 2020

Sam Thompson provides guidance on electricity distribution network operators’ duties to electricity infrastructure service users.

My Land is Not Connected to an Electricity Network – What can I do?

The Electricity Act 1989 imposes a general duty on the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to connect your land to their electricity supply on request, provided there are no applicable exceptions. A DNO is a licensed electricity company. At the time of writing there are 14 electricity DNO’s in the UK owned by 6 ownership groups. To find out who your DNO is visit the FAQ page ‘Who is my Network Operator’ at energyworks.org

What are the exceptions to my DNO’s duty to connect me?

A DNO is not automatically required to connect your land to the electricity supply if:

They are prevented due to circumstances outside their control;

Connecting the supply would result in breaching safety regulations;

It is not reasonable for the DNO to be required to make the connection;

If the connection would, without the consent of another person, involve the DNO having to exercise its statutory powers in Schedule 3 or 4 of the Act such as executing street works or the compulsory acquisition of land etc, AND, their licence does not provide that Schedule 3 or 4 applies to them, AND, any necessary consent has not been given at the time of the request.

As you can see there are several exceptions to the general rule giving the DNO scope to refuse a connection request. Whether an exception applies will always depend on the facts and circumstances of the request.

an the DNO charge me to make the connection?

Yes, the DNO can charge you for the connection to the network. The DNO is required to provide you with a statement of the cost of making the connection. The cost of a connection varies between projects. It depends on the size of the connection, where the connection is, the distance from the existing network and whether the network can accommodate the capacity needed. The charge must be a fair price for the cost of the work. It is made up of three components:

The full cost of assets that will be used by you;

A proportion of the cost of network reinforcement required – calculated by the share of new capacity created to be enjoyed by your land;

A rebate to the DNO or a previously connected customer if the new connection uses assets that were installed and paid for by a previous connection.

Certain works called ‘contestable works’ can also be carried out using another provider to keep costs lower if possible. This is one of the measures the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (OFGEM) has in place to reduce the cost to the customer.

What can I do if the DNO refuses to connect my land to their network or I am unhappy with the cost of their connection charge?

If the DNO refuses to connect your land to their network or wishes to charge you a fee that you believe is unreasonable, then you do have the right to dispute this. All disputes should firstly be taken up with the DNO in the form of a complaint. If the DNO does not offer a reasonable solution, then the dispute should be referred to OFGEM for a determination which can be enforceable in a similar way as a judgment in the court. The process of dealing with a dispute and coming to a determination is set out by OFGEM and involves multiple stages similar to an adjudication process. An oral hearing may also be requested, although many disputes remain paper based throughout the entire process.

Need advice? We can help you

If you need a connection to the electricity network and the DNO is refusing to make a connection, then please get in touch. We can advise you on the dispute and act for you throughout the process. As specialists in Wayleave Litigation, we have extensive knowledge in the field.

Please contact Sam Thompsonon 01482 324252.

You can find out more about how we can help you here

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