Electricity

Are Power Cuts Costing Your Business Money?

There are 14 licensed distribution network operators (DNOs) in Britain and each is responsible for a regional distribution services area and therefore, fixing a power cut if you have one. The 14 DNOs are owned by six different groups.

The DNO groups and individual DNOs are:

Electricity North West Limited 
Northern PowergridNorthern Powergrid (Northeast) Limited
Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc
Scottish and Southern EnergyScottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc
Southern Electric Power Distribution plc
ScottishPower Energy NetworksSP Distribution Ltd
SP Manweb plc
UK Power NetworksLondon Power Networks plc
South Eastern Power Networks plc
Eastern Power Networks plc
Western Power DistributionWestern Power Distribution (East Midlands) plc
Western Power Distribution (West Midlands) plc
Western Power Distribution (South West) plc
Western Power Distribution (South Wales) plc

You don’t pay electricity bills to Distribution Network Operators; they just own and operates the power lines that connect homes in the UK to their networks.

DNO’s are responsible for making sure there are as few power cuts to business owners and homeowners as possible. Each year UK Power Networks alone spend about £500 million to maintain and replace electricity cables and power lines – they are responsible for East and South East of the UK and power lines across London. It doesn’t matter how much is spent however, as sometimes power cuts do happen, and your business needs to be prepared for that.

Plans for your business in case of a power cut

There are steps that you can take to prevent loss to your business during a power cut:

  • Many businesses have their own backup generators to use during a power cut. This means that if your business has a power cut the generator will kick in and will keep your business running smoothly.
  • A good one to start looking into is the 100KVA generator. Some generators will be larger than this, but it is the recommended average.
  • For a smaller business, purchase an Uninterruptable Power Supply device (UPS) This is a small device that lets you work through short power cuts and will shut down your computer or equipment safety. You can buy them from electronic retailers. Prices vary from £40 upwards.

What to do if your business has lost money

Having a power cut is frustrating and having no power at your business can mean having to close for the day, losing important information, communications and income. Your business insurance may cover you, though, so the first thing to do is to check your policy. However, your power distributer is not liable for any loss or damage to your business.

‘Terms of connection’

Wherever you live in the UK to receive a supply of electricity you require both:

  • The electricity you receive from your electricity supplier will be delivered using the distribution network run by your local network operator.
  • Your supplier has been appointed as the agent of your network operator to obtain a connection agreement with you on these terms, which are the same across the UK. When you enter into an electricity supply contract you are also entering into this connection agreement with your local network operator.
  • Connection to a network

The premises will remain connected to your network in accordance with the provisions of the Electricity Act 1989, any other legal requirements that apply from time to time, and the terms of this agreement.

  • Network constraints

The obligation of your DNO under this agreement are subject to the maximum capacity and any other design feature of the connection. You must contact us in advance if you propose to make any significant change to the connection or to the electric lines or electrical equipment at the premises, or if you propose to do anything else that could affect your network or if you require alterations to the connection.

  • Generating Equipment

 If you install or arrange for the installation of, small-scale generating equipment at the premises-which means one or more sources of electrical energy that an aggregate rating of no greater than 16 amps per phase connected at low voltage – that you must inform your DNO of your intention to use no later then 28 days after the equipment is commissioned. As long as you do this, you do not need your distributers consent, however, if you intend to install or operate any other kind of generating equipment at the premises you must contact us in advance to obtain consent. All generating equipment used at the premises must comply with the applicable requirements of the distribution code that applies to all licences. To obtain a copy contact your network operator.

  • Providing information

You must provide your DNO with the information they request in relation to the nature, or use by you, of electrical equipment at the premises. Your distributor will only ask for information that we need in relation to this agreement or the distribution code that applies under their licence.

  • Conveying electricity

Your DNO cannot guarantee that they will convey electricity through their network at all times, or that electricity delivered through their network will be free of brief variations in voltage or frequency.

  • Cutting off the supply

Your DNO may cut off the flow of electricity through the connection where your distributor is entitled to do so under the general law. your distributor may also cut off the flow of electricity where they are required to do so under contract with an electricity supplier or because of the electricity industry arrangements under which they operate in accordance with our licence.

  • Unauthorised use of a network

This agreement entitles the premises to be connected to your network for the purpose of receiving electricity from or exporting electricity to, your distributor’s network. Any other use of your network, including the transmission of data or communications, is strictly prohibited unless with your distributors prior written consent. Unless they have given consent any such use of their network by you or relating to the connection, shall be a breach of this agreement, and you shall be liable for the losses that incur as result whether directly or indirectly.

  • If something goes wrong If your distributor fails to comply with any term of this agreement or are negligent, you may be entitled under general law to recover compensation from us for any loss you have suffered. However, they will not be required to compensate you for (and you should consider obtaining insurance against) loss caused by anything beyond their reasonable control, any indirect loss, or any direct loss or indirect economic or financial loss (including wasted expenses or any loss of revenue, profit, or interest, any loss of business, commercial, market, or economic opportunity, or any loss of contact or goodwill) other than where you are entitled to recover compensation for the loss under the general law in relation to death or personal injury.
  • Business customers If the electricity supplied to the premises is wholly or mainly for business purposes, their liability to you in relation to that premises, and your liability to us in relation to that premises, will (subject to the limitations in clause 9) be limited to a maximum of £100,000 per calendar year.
  • Changing the connection agreement

The terms of this agreement will be changed automatically to incorporate any changes which are approved by your distributers regulator, the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (GEMA). Notice of any changes which is approved will be advertised in the national press, and the new terms will be published on the Internet at www.connectionterms.co.uk

  • Agreeing other connection terms

You and your distributor may each, at any time, ask the other to enter into an alternative connection agreement in respect of the connection if you or they believe an alternative agreement is needed because of the nature of the connection.

  • Ending this agreement

This agreement will end when one of the following occurs:

  • you and your distributor agree on a replacement agreement in respect of the connection;
  • the flow of electricity through the connection is permanently stopped; or
  • any circumstances arise which legally entitle us to cut off the electricity flow through the connection and you will be contacted to let you know that this agreement is ended. The ending of this agreement for any reason will not affect any rights, remedies or obligations which may have come into being under agreement prior to its ending and clauses 9 and 10 will continue to apply.
  • Transferring this connection agreement

You are not entitled to transfer this agreement to another person without your distributors consent.

Your rights to compensation

For compensation, Ofgem has standards that are applicable to all DNO’s.

EGS 1 Main fuse failure (Regulation 12) If the main fuse between your distributors supply cable and your meter fails, your distributor will visit within three hours on weekdays if you call us between 7am and 7pm. On weekends and Bank Holidays, you will be visited between 9am and 5pm.

EGS 2 Supply restoration during normal weather (Regulation 5) If your electricity supply fails during normal weather conditions because of a problem with our distribution system, we will work hard to get the power back on as quickly as possible. However, if it takes us more than 12 hours from the time your distributor is made aware of the loss of supply, you will be paid £75 if you are a domestic customer and £150 if you are a business customer. You will be paid another £35 for each additional 12 hours you are without supply. The Standard requires you to make a valid claim within three months of the date the supply is restored.

EGS 2a Multiple interruptions (Regulation 10) If you have had four or more power cuts in a year, each longer than three hours, you will be paid £75. The payment is the same whether you are a domestic or a business customer. You must claim the payment within three months of the end of the year, which runs from 1 April to 31 March. When making a claim you will need to provide the address of the property affected and the dates of the electricity supply failure. (You cannot include in your claim any incident where you have already been paid or any power cut that you know about in advance).

EGS 2b Supply restoration: during normal conditions – 5,000 or more premises interrupted (Regulations 6) If we have a single failure, fault or damage on your distributor’s distribution system affecting 5,000 or more premises. However, if it takes more than 24 hours, you will be paid £75 if you are a domestic customer and £150 if you are a business customer. You will be paid another £35 for each additional 12 hours you are without supply. The Standard requires you to make a valid claim within three months of the date the supply is restored.

EGS 2c Supply restoration: rota disconnection (Regulation 8) This Standard applies when supply to the customer’s premises is interrupted as a result of a rota disconnection on your distributor’s network. If we do not restore your supply within 24 hours, we will pay domestic customers £75 and non-domestic customers £150. The Standard requires you to make a valid claim within three months of the date the supply is restored.

EGS 4 Notice of planned supply interruptions (Regulation 12) If we need to switch off your power to work on your distributor, the network we will give you at least two days notice. If we need to switch off an Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO), we will give at least five days notice. In both cases, the notice does not apply if work is for emergency repairs. If we don’t give you the required notice, or we switch your electricity off on a different day, then you can claim (within one month of the failure) £30 if you are a domestic customer and £60 if you are a business customer.

EGS 5 Supply voltage (Regulation 13) If you inform us that the electricity to your property is outside the permitted voltage range, we will contact you and arrange a visit to your property within seven working days, or, if a visit is not necessary, you will be given a written response within five working days. If your distributor fails on these timescales we will arrange for you to receive £30.

EGS 8 Appointments (Regulation 17) If your distributor needs to come to your property, or you ask us to visit, they will agree on a date and time with you.

EGS 9 Notification of payment under guaranteed standards (Regulation 21) you will be notified, or your supplier, of any Guaranteed Standards your distributor fails to meet (other than those for which you have to make a claim). In any case, your distributor will send your payment directly to you within 10 working days of becoming aware of the failure except in the case of

EGS 11 (Regulation 7). If your distributor fails to notify you, or your supplier, or fail to send payment within the relevant time scale, your distributor will arrange for you to receive an additional £30. EGS 11 Severe weather (Regulation 7) If your electricity supply fails because of a problem on your distributers system due to severe weather, your distributor will restore it within the period prescribed by the Electricity (Standards of Performance) Regulations 2005, dependent upon the scale of the event. Category 1 (medium events) Lightning events – when your distributor experiences at least eight times the normal amount of faults in one day – supplies will be restored within 24-hours. Non-lightning events – when your distributor experiences between eight and thirteen times the normal amount of faults in one day – supplies will be restored within 24-hours. Category 2 (large events) Non-lightning events – when your distributor experiences at least thirteen times the normal amount of faults in one day – supplies will be restored within 48-hours. Category 3 (very large events) During any severe weather events supplies will be restored within a period as calculated using a formula based on the number of customers affected, as set out in the Electricity (Standards of Performance) Regulations 2015. If your distributor fails and you make a valid claim within three months of the date the supply is restored, you will receive £70 (for both domestic and business customers). You will also receive a further £70 for each additional 12 hours you are without supply. The maximum payment you will receive totals £700. These payments will be made as soon as reasonably possible.

Can power cuts be prevented permanently?

Electricity networks are 99.99% reliable and power cuts are quite rare. However, it can’t be guaranteed that you will never have a power cut again because power cuts can happen for various reasons outside of your distributor’s control.

Planned power cuts

Sometimes the power may need to be switched off while work is being done on electricity cables nearby. For example, underground cables may need replacing or repairing. Or changes to overhead lines may be being made because one of your neighbours has requested it. For this work to be carried out safely, electricity supplies must be turned off in the area. You should be notified of this.

What causes power cuts?

You may not have thought about this before but these scenarios commonly cause power cuts. Weather:

  • Severe winds can cause damage to overhead power lines. Wind-borne debris or trees falling on power lines can pull them down.
  • Water can get into underground electricity cables and damage the cable.
  • Lightning can damage power lines and equipment
  • Trees brushing against an electricity line can damage it.
  • Other people damaging cables
  • When digging in the ground or working near overhead power lines occasionally people do damage your distributers electricity cables. For example, someone could accidentally cut through electricity cables when digging.

Next door has power – why don’t you?

Your electricity network is built in a way that means different buildings (even in the same street) can receive their power from different electricity cables. This means if there is a fault on one electricity cable, not everyone’s power goes off.

Advice during a power cut

Keeping your food cold:

  • Avoid opening the fridge or freezer door to protect the food. Food can usually last up to 15 hours if you do this.

General tips:

  • Unplug any sensitive appliances until your power comes back on.
  • Remember that many modern home phones, particularly cordless ones, may not work during a power cut.
  • Limit the use of your laptop or smartphone to retain battery power.

How your power comes back on:

  1. Once a power cut is identified, a team investigates
  2. Firstly, your DNO will see if they can fix the problem remotely which is the quickest way (it’s not always possible though)
  3. If not, then an engineer will travel to your local area.
  4. The engineer will go to one of the electrical substations to try to get the power back on as quickly and as safely as possible.
  5. Sometimes it may take longer for us to fix the fault if there is damage to equipment.
  6. You may receive regular updates on how the work is going depending on your DNO.
  7. Your power is back on!

11kV Supplies

11kV, if you did not know is the main voltage used for distributing energy. For domestic and (most) business use the voltage of energy is dropped to 415 or 240V. This makes the energy safe to use and be interacted with by users (such as plugging in an appliance, so the risk of electrocution is not ridiculously high).

Larger energy users, however, will have an 11kV supply to their premises and then will own their own transformers which drop the electricity voltage so it becomes safe to use. Unfortunately, many of these transformers are old, and we mean really old.

Old electric equipment can often develop faults becoming defective just with age, so many of these transformers are inefficient and are wasting a lot of energy. Businesses will all pay for the energy they use – so even though the energy is being lost by the transformer’s ineffective practices it still counts as ‘used’. This means that many large businesses are not just wasting energy, but also money.

Especially in the current economic climate many businesses cannot be affording to lose money – especially on things which are useless and costly like wasted energy. This is where Energy Solutions can help; we can help and support you through your energy efficiency journey.

Saving you money whilst also reducing your energy consumption is what we pride ourselves on. First, let us learn a little more about what 11kV supply means, and then look at what savings can be made and why we are the best choice to help you figure out your energy efficiency.

An Intro to 11kV

In the UK, 11kV is the standard secondary distribution voltage. This is because transmitting electricity at this rate allows for a large amount of energy to be distributed at once which increases efficiency and is a cost effective option for transmitters. Additionally, the voltage is still relatively low which means the energy remains easy to manipulate and handle throughout the distribution network. This increases safety and again increases efficiency as it reduces the risk of damage or injury, slowing the process and endangering lives.

11kV is also able to be manipulated and transmitted without the need for specialist equipment or approaches; this makes it a more accessible process for workers and also saves money holistically as money is not spent on securing adequately trained staff etc. 

Substations are areas that supply the energy for a local area. Their main function as stations is to collect the high voltage energy being transmitted from the generation station and then reduce the voltage. The reduction of the voltage takes place in order to make the energy an acceptable level for local distribution. As aforementioned, this is between 240-415V. The substation consists of two main roles:

  1. simple switching between transmission lines,
  2. conversion from AC to DC (or vice versa), or from higher to lower (or vice versa) frequency

There are some main aspects of a substation which are listed below:

IsolatorThe isolator connects or disconnects the incoming circuit when the supply is already interrupted. Isolators are also used for breaking the charging current of the transmission line. An isolator is placed on the supply side of the circuit breaker so that the circuit breaker isolated from the live parts of the maintenance
Lightning ArresterThe lightning arrester is a protective device which protects the system from lightning effects. The lightning arrester has two terminals one is high voltage and the other is the ground voltage. The high voltage terminal is connected to the transmission line and the ground terminal passes the high voltage surges to earth.
CT MeteringThe metering CT measure and records the current when their secondary terminal is connected to the metering equipment panel.
Step-down TransformerThe step-down transformer converts the high voltage current into the low voltage current.
Capacitor BankThe capacitor bank consists series or parallel connection of the capacitor. The main function of the capacitor bank is to improve the power factor of the line. The capacitor bank then draws the leading current to the line by reducing the reactive component of the circuit.
Circuit BreakerThe circuit breaker interrupts the abnormal or faults current to flow through the line. A circuit breaker is a type of electrical switch which opens or closes the contacts when the fault occurs in the system.

11kV for Larger Users

As aforementioned, larger users of energy manage their own transformer which converts their 11kV supply to usable energy. However, this is largely inefficient as most transformers do not use energy effectively and often waste a lot of the money users are spending on their energy consumption.

When looking to reduce energy consumption many larger businesses will turn to green changes such as using solar panels or switching out bulbs for smart lighting methods such as dimmer switches or sensors. This is usually in a bid to reduce consumption and relieve some of the energy expenses larger users endure.

However, most of this will be wholly ineffective if such a large aspect of your energy consumption process is faulty, like most transformers are. The challenge for businesses is to look beyond the obvious, quick fixes of energy consumption and instead invest time and energy into their business to help reduce costs and limit consumption. Energy Solutions can help support any size of business in reducing their consumption and hence energy costs and have some expert advice in this particular field.

Transformer replacements can look expensive and unnecessary, often transformers are situated far away from large premises and so it is very easy to forget they exist and thus not pay them much thought when considering energy usage. Some businesses may not even understand what they are. However, that is why here at Energy Solutions we are going to leave you feeling assured and confident in the facts regarding 11kV supply.

Reasons You Should Upgrade Your Transformer

  1. Outdated and Ineffective

Many power transformers are incredibly outdated – with some estimates saying the average transformer is around 50 years old. Electrical equipment is not designed to last that long, and it will not be performing in its optimum capacity anymore. Through lost energy due to  inefficient conduct, old transformers will cost businesses a lot of unnecessary energy costs; money which, if saved, could be put to much better use within your business. Years of wear and tear have not fared transformers well and, while they served very well, the time has come for most transformers to retire and allow another to take the reins.

  • Technological Advancements

With the likes of most energy (and all) technology, transformer technology has vastly improved over the last 50 years. The significant improvements include updates such as ultra-low loss amorphous transformers. If thinking green is important to your business, as it should be, then by all means continue updating your energy consumption by investing in solar panels and other green methods, but it is also important that you invest in your transformer too. The aforementioned transformer exceeds all environmental expectations of transformers these days, and will significantly reduce energy loss and wastage – saving energy and money, and the planet!

  • Voltage Management

Time for a bit of energy jargon. Modern transformers have a lower nominal voltage of 11kV. They are typically supplied with an additional tap setting of +7.5%. This means that modern transformers serve as a cost-efficient management device because they regulate the site supply voltage at the source. This management offers users substantial savings in their energy expenses, which is always welcome!

  • Payback and Capital

Payback, typically, on a completed project will take LESS THAN 5 YEARS. That is a phenomenal turn-around on your investment! The average life expectancy of a modern transformer is 30 years. This means there are 25 years minimum where you are reaping the rewards of energy savings before reinvesting. That is such a promising payback ratio, and well worth the investment!

  • Environmental and Climate Responsibility

Many businesses are beginning to seriously tackle their carbon footprint and their environmental impact. This is really important news for the planet, and the more businesses can do the better. Transformers are a sure-fire way to ensure that your business is not just saving itself money, but also saving the planet and lives of others. Energy and carbon savings are guaranteed, and this is a very good thing for the planet. Additionally, the money you will earn in capital in the 25 years of replacing your transformer can be used to put back into your business, ensuring you have the greenest infrastructure and legislations possible. This will result is massive money and green savings for the future!

Companies such as Unilver, Arla, Rolls Royce  and United Biscuits have already saved money from upgrading their transformers. Why not reduce your energy consumption, and save money, today?

At Energy Solutions we have many services and products which will bring your business a step closer to saving money, energy, and the planet. Please do get in touch to find out how we can help and support your business today!

Building Network Operators

What is a Building Network Operator?

The recognised definition for a building network operator is as follows –

‘The organisation that owns or operates the electricity distribution network within a multiple occupancy building, between the intake position and customers installations. The BNO may be the DNO, another licensed distributor or a third party exempt from an electricity distribution license (e.g. a facilities management company)’.

ENA ER G87

Maybe a little bit wordy. From this definition we can see that building owners, landlords, developers, or whoever is in charge of the building infrastructure at a given moment all have the potential to qualify as a BNO. What is most astonishing is that often, they aren’t even aware that they are a BNO!

This isn’t a permanently fixed title, as building network operators are allowed to appoint a third party to act as the BNO on their behalf. So, even if after reading this article you find out that you are unknowingly a building network operator, it is a relatively simple fix.

Who is involved in the BNO process?

Throughout this article we will be relying heavily on the use of commonly used acronyms, if at any point you become unsure on what these mean or how they are involved in the BNO process, then it is a good idea to return to this section.

  • Distribution Network Operator (DNO): For new buildings, the responsibility of the DNO ends at the customer side of the intake. The nature of the supply does not change this.
  • Building Network Operator (BNO): Owns and operates everything past the DNO point of demarcation. This excludes any meters embedded within the network or attached to the equipment. Responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure of the building.
  • Electricity Supplier: Owns the meters embedded within the network and provides the electricity supplied.

Scenario identification of typical BNO properties

True BNO installations usually have two unique identifying characteristics (although there are a few exceptions to this rule). Often these characteristics are revealed through universally commonly occurring scenarios.

ScenarioReason
A new electrical supply is requested for a multi-occupied building from Distribution Network Operator. No work is completed beyond the intake.If this situation occurs (specifically the lack of work past the intake point) then it is a good indicator that the property will require a BNO. Even though the DNO may offer multiple MPANs, it is still the BNO responsibility to look after supply past the intake point.
A converted property with an existing supply is confirmed by DNO to have sufficient supply for requested capacity.This situation is most common when a commercial property has been converted into apartments. There may be an existing bulk metered supply on site and the DNO may offer multiple MPANs to repurpose the existing supply for any apartments.

Other Identifying features found in BNO installations

These features are not a sure-fire way to identify BNO installations, although they are commonly found within them:

  • Fuses
  • Steel Wired Armoured (SWA)
  • Switch Fuse
  • Bus-bar Riser
  • Isolator
  • ‘Red Head’ Links
  • Distribution Board
  • Low Smoke and Zero Halogen materials.

What is a Multi-Occupied Building?

This is an important definition to make early on as there is often some confusion surrounding this term. The recognised definition for multi-occupied building is as follows –

‘Any single building that has been sub-divided into more than one premise, for example flats (including conversions) or factories that have been broken up into smaller industrial units. It includes communal areas (if any)’.

What are the basic responsibilities of a Building Network Operator?

Regardless of your background or job title, any building network operators will be responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of the electrical installation past the intake point.

So, if there are any faults, issues, repairs, or breakages to any of the cables, boards, switches, or isolators – guess who is responsible for fixing it? You.

Building Network Operators will be expected (and legally required) to resolve any issues surrounding electrical supply, at their own cost. Maybe being a DNO isn’t such a great deal after all…

If there were to ever be a power outage for the entire building – the DNO would be responsible for restoring power. Even if there were to be a loss of supply to only one apartment or business within the building, it is still the building network operators’ job to resolve the issue.

Am I likely to be a Building Network Operator?

If you aren’t aware if you are a building network operator, it is unlikely that you will be one… The additional responsibilities that come with being a BNO make it difficult to be unaware of the position.

You are likely the designated building network operator, or at least affected by the BNO process if you are any of the following:

  • Commercial Landlord
  • Property Developer
  • House Builder
  • Property Manager
  • Electrical Contractor

The benefits of appointing a third party BNO

There are numerous reasons why you would want to appoint a third party to take over your BNO responsibilities. However, there are some discrete benefits only really available for certain parties. These are outlined in the table below.

BNO TypeBenefit
Commercial Landlords & Property ManagersIt is likely that any BNOs who have become so by acting as a landlord or property manager will have other properties on their portfolio with the same or similar responsibilities. As there will be ongoing maintenance and inspections at all of these properties, this can become a seriously time-consuming task. By appointing an external business as BNO allows them to provide this service.
Electrical ContractorsBNO offers a higher degree of freedom in terms of electrical installation and layout. By appointing an external business as BNO allows external advice, design, and project management.
Property Developers & House BuildersExternal BNO specialists are able to provide a consultancy/advice service during building, renovating, or refurbishment. This ensures that the building is industry compliant from the off.

After reading this article, I don’t want to be a DNO anymore… What can I do?

Firstly, we absolutely do not blame you!

For many, this title is simply additional (and unwanted) stress. If only there were someone out there who would leap at the chance to take on this burden…

Well, look no further!

By appointing Energy Solutions as the building network operator for your building, you will save yourself a tonne of stress (not to mention your hard-earned cash). It is often a difficult and thankless job, which is why we have decided to do something about it.

We believe in a different way of doing things to other businesses within the energy industry. We put our customers first, no matter what. Over the last twenty or so years, we have picked up the expertise needed to seamlessly oversee the responsibilities that come with being a building network operator.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with the responsibility of being a building network operator, then give us a call on 0131 610 1688.

We know how important keeping your property supplied with energy at all times is – which is why we have expanded the ways our customers can reach us. How many businesses do you know of that can communicate via WhatsApp?

We look forward to hearing from you!

Common Questions

What does BNO stand for?

BNO stands for Building Network Operator.

What is a Building Network Operator?

The standard definition of a building network operator is as follows:

‘The organisation that owns or operates the electricity distribution network within a multiple occupancy building, between the intake position and customers installations. The BNO may be the DNO, another licensed distributor or a third party exempt from an electricity distribution license’.

What do Building Network Operators do?

Building Network Operators are responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of the electrical installations in a multi-occupied building, past the intake point. More specifically, they are expected to resolve any issues with electrical supply at their own personal cost.

Who can be a Building Network Operator?

Anybody can be a building network operator, really. The most likely reasons why someone would become a BNO is if they are any of the following; Commercial Landlord, Property Developer, House Builder, Property Manager, Electrical Contractor, or have been appointed to the position.

I don’t want to be a BNO, what can I do?

Luckily for you, it is possible to appoint a third party as the recognised building network operator for your property. It is possible to appoint someone internally (if they are willing) or also to appoint an outside business.

What are CTs? (Current Transformers)

CTs – Overview

Current transformers are measuring devices that are used to safely reproduce a low-level current that accurately represents a higher current level. They are mainly used for the purpose of metering (measuring) and protection. They come in numerous different sizes, shapes, and ratings to fit the broad range of applications.

Current transformers are not necessarily permanent installations, with smaller models and styles created especially for ease of use with temporary applications. Permanent installations usually involve slightly larger current transformers and can be found on generators, transformers, and connected loads. Permanent installations are usually required when an individual or business wants to consistently measure the current flowing in a system from a certain point, over an extended period of time.

CTs – How they work

CTs are closed loop instruments consisting of a magnetic core and a secondary winding around that core. The primary lining of the CT has the wire with the current we want to measure passed through the centre of the core.

The primary winding that carries the main current is said to have a single loop for winding. The wire produces the magnetic field that drives the current on the secondary winding which is then used as the output of the current transformer. The current of the secondary winding is proportional to the current flowing through the centre of the core.

 An example of this is as follows:

  1. Take a CT with a rating of 1000 to 5, or turns ratio of 200 to 1.
  2. 1000 amps flow through the primary circuit (primary winding).
  3. There is now 5 amps flowing through secondary winding based off of the ratio above.
  4. We can calculate the third unknown variable if the two others are known from: Ratio, primary circuit current, secondary circuit current.

CTs – Uses in the Energy Industry

As we have established already, current transformers are used mainly for metering and protection. The problem with this, is it still doesn’t lead us any closer to understanding why they are used.

Most households will be fitted with a consumption meter to measure exactly how much gas or electricity is being used over a period of time. Historically, customers would have to manually read the values of this meter and submit them to their energy supplier for billing. Over the last few years smart meters have taken over, negating the need to submit readings and providing more accurate data for billing.

But what happens when an energy supplier isn’t able to meter a supply?

This happens most commonly for business customers demanding huge quantities of energy – it is simply not possible to install one little consumption meter to measure the vast monthly consumption. In order to get around this, current transformers are fitted. This allows for an accurate measurement of consumption – without exposing anybody to unnecessary danger.

CTs – Industry jargon

The energy industry is known for having some ridiculously complex terminology, rife with jargon and interchangeable terms. It makes sense before diving any deeper to familiarise yourself with some of the relevant terms below:

AcronymDescriptionComment
CTCurrent TransformerCurrent transformers ‘step down’ electrical current to a level that normal-range ammeters can handle.
CT RatioCurrent Transformer RatioThis ratio is crucial for ensuring your meter is programmed correctly.
DAData AggregatorAgent responsible for obtaining, managing, and collating data to provide to suppliers for billing.
DCData CollectorAgent responsible for obtaining, managing, and collating data to provide to suppliers for billing.
DRData RetrieverAgent responsible for obtaining, managing, and collating data to provide to suppliers for billing.
Declared CapacityThe capacity for a new electrical supply – measured in kVA.
DNODistribution Network OperatorA company licensed to be able to distribute electricity to one (or more) of the UKs 14 distribution areas.
EACEstimated Annual ConsumptionAn estimation of how much electricity you will use over the course of a year – measured in kWh.
HHHalf HourlyHalf-hourly meters record accurate consumption data every thirty minutes.
HVHigh VoltageThe National Grid transmits energy at high voltages. High voltage electricity can cause serious harm to humans.
kVAKilo Volt AmpereThe most common unit of measurement in the energy business.
MOPMeter OperatorThe company responsible for maintenance and repairs on your meter.
MPANMeter Point Administration NumberUnique identification number for electricity supply point.
MPASMeter Point Administration ServiceOperated by Distribution Network Operator for area. They provide MPANs for new supplies.
NHHNon-Half HourlyNHH are installed at premises that do not meet the consumption threshold for a half-hourly meter.
Single or Three PhaseDifferent methods of delivering alternating current power.
Profile ClassClassification system used to describe how much energy customers will use, and when.
VT (Ratio)Voltage TransformerThis is provided by Distribution Network Operator.
WCWhole Current MeterMeter that is connected directly to a single or three phase supply cable.

CTs – Style selection

When discussing current transformers for low and medium voltage applications, there are three main style types to be aware of:

  • Solid core: These CTs are generally used for more permanent installations – used primarily for metering and protection in switchboards, panel-boards, and switchgear.
  • Split core: Used for more temporary applications. Most commonly used for power quality instrumentation.
  • Clamp-on: Used for more temporary applications. Also used most commonly for power quality instrumentation.

CTs – Six steps to power on

If you are looking to install a low-voltage current transformer metered connection at your premises, you should look to follow these six steps:

StepAction
1Complete a connection agreement.
2Nominate an electricity supplier and provide them your unique MPAN.
3Appoint meter operator and inform electricity supplier.
4Arrange for a qualified electrician to install main switch and outgoing cable trails.
5Agree on an energisation date.
6Confirm that energisation date works for all involved parties.

CTs – Common ratios and fuse ratings

In order to provide some context to some of the theory, we have included some examples of common ratios and other information:

Requested kVAMaximum Fuse Rating (A)
70-130200
131-200315
201-276400
277-300500
Metering CT RatioEquivalent Max kVA
500/5345
1000/5690
1500/51035
2500/51725

CTs – For visual learners

This article has barely so much as scraped the surface of the theory behind current transformers, there is still so much more to learn. If you are interested in finding out more about the theory behind how this technology works, but find you learn best through more visually stimulating content – then you should check out this video.

CTs – Further Information

At Energy Solutions we pride ourselves on providing the best customer-orientated service we possibly can.  We know it can be intimidating dealing with energy suppliers who hide behind industry jargon and complex terminology – so how do we solve this?

Firstly, we release in depth guides and other resources on our website for customers to gain an insight behind the scenes. We believe that energy industry literacy is the key to placing the power back into the hands of the customer.

Secondly, we provide trusted and proven expertise in energy procurement for our customers. Whether it be for a small domestic abode, or large business facility – we have it covered.

If you would like any more information on any of our services, you can look on our website or give us a call to find out more at 0131 610 1688.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Common Questions

What is a current transformer?

Current transformers are essentially measuring devices that are used to safely reproduce a low-level current that accurately represents a higher current level. They are mainly used for the purpose of metering (measuring) and protection.

How do current transformers work?

By applying Maxwell’s equations, CTs are able to reproduce a low-level current that is representative of a much higher current level. This lower level of current is measurable while the higher current is not. By measuring this lower current and combining it with a known ratio we are able to calculate the original current value.

Are there different types of current transformers?

There are a multitude of different types of transformers to choose from. Most commonly CTs come in three main style types: Split core, solid core, and clamp on.

Is it possible to remove a current transformer after installation?

Current transformers are for the most part removable. Some CTs are designed explicitly for temporary measuring and installation. It is worthwhile to spend some time researching the type of transformer installed as there are some that will be far more difficult than others.

Learning How To Set Up Energy in a New Home

We all know that your choice in energy plan can make a huge difference to your annual energy spend. But few of us know how crucial it is to set up energy in a new home as soon as possible. Every day after you move in you could be haemorrhaging money in your new property. Here, we’ll look at how to set up energy in your new home, and why it’s so important to be proactive.

Why is it so important to set up energy in a new home as soon as you move house?

We get it. When you move into a new home there’s a lot to deal with. You need to haul all those boxes, rigorously clean and tidy, redirect your post, sign up to a new GP, change your address on your driving license, the to-do list can seem endless. But even in this flurry of activity, it’s important to spare a thought for your energy bills.

Actually, the energy saving experts at Switch-Plan are specialized in helping you save money on your energy bills. They can explain why time is of the essence when you set up energy in a new home. As soon as you move in, you’re placed on a deemed contract with whatever supplier the previous occupant used. These are invariably based on a supplier’s standard variable tariff. This is usually (though not always) a supplier’s most expensive tariff. 

Get in touch with the Switch-Plan team as soon as possible. Provide your full address, the name of the supplier and tariff that you currently have in your new home, and a rough idea of your annual (or monthly) energy usage. They can take care of the rest!

How long does it take to set up energy in a new home?

Because your switch is managed from end-to-end, you have every advantage when it comes to securing a quick and easy switch. Many suppliers are also voluntarily signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee. This is the supplier’s commitment to ensuring that your switch goes as smoothly as possible. Your new supplier will communicate with your old supplier behind the scenes and arrange the switch. 

When you set up energy in your new home, your switch should take no more than 15 days, and you are entitled to £30 in compensation if it takes any longer. You will receive a final bill from the incumbent supplier within 6 weeks. 

What if I change my mind about my new home’s energy tariff?

You have the right to change your mind when you commit to a new energy plan. If you see a better offer after you’ve set up an energy plan in your new home, you have a 14 day “cooling off” period. Within this timeframe you can switch back to the incumbent supplier, or sign up to any other energy plan you like. You won’t have to pay any fees or charges, even if you signed up to a fixed-rate energy plan.

How often should I switch suppliers?

The energy watchdog  Ofgem recommends that energy consumers keep switching suppliers every 12-18 months. Not only does this ensure that you’re always getting the best value for money, it also keeps the energy market competitive, and prevents suppliers from overcharging due to complacency. 

So even when your new home is no longer new, you should still be proactive in switching regularly.