Building Network Operator (BNO) installations. What are your options?

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Development projects often require multiple electricity supplies, each of which needs to be individually metered. Common examples include apartment blocks or mixed-use developments with retail premises occupying the ground floor.

None of the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) will allow multiple supplies into the same building. However, they will provide you with a single supply that is split internally into the number of individually-metered supplies you require.

In certain regions, the DNO will only provide a single-metered supply. You then have the responsibility for splitting the supply into the multiple supplies you require, using sub-metering if you want each to be metered. But many building owners do not want the hassle of managing sub-metering.
(As an aside, this internal network is often termed a ‘Building Network Operator’ (BNO) installation).

So what are your options for getting individually-metered supplies?

You have four options for the installation works:

  1. Use the DNO
  2. Use an alternative installer, called an Independent Connections Provider (ICP)
  3. Use the DNO for the initial supply and an electrical contractor for the internal works
  4. Use an ICP for the initial supply and an electrical contractor for the internal works

Does it make a difference who I choose?

The key difference between the four options is who owns the installation (often referred to as ‘adopting’). The ‘adopter’ has the responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and in the case of any power outage. This responsibility includes the cost of putting it right.

Who can own or adopt the installation?

The electrical installation may be owned or be ‘adopted by’ different organisations and they will assume responsibility for the part that they own.

  • The electrical connection from the distribution network to the intake at the apartment building, including any required substations for a High Voltage (HV) connection, will be ‘adopted by’ the DNO or an Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO).
  • The connection from the intake to the contractor switch may also be adopted by the DNO or IDNO if they take on your network. Otherwise, it will be the responsibility of the Building Network Operator, which could be the building owner or leaseholder.
  • The cabling from the contractor switch to the property will be owned by the householder.

If your installation is adopted by an Independent Distribution Network Operator, they may give a financial payment upon energisation in returning for adopting your installation.

Your four options

Option 1: Get the DNO to do all the works
In the simplest scenario, your DNO will provide individually metered supplies. In effect, they will install the new supply to the building and then provide the internal installation to the individual meters (whether they are in a communal space or the individual premises). In this case, the DNO will both install and adopt the installation.

Option 2: Get an alternative provider (ICP) to do all the works

Exactly the same premise as Option 1, but an Independent Connections Provider (ICP) installs your electrical connection for you. An ICP is an electrical engineering company, like Rock Power Connections, who can design and install your new supply and has the relevant accreditations to do so.

In this option, Rock Power Connections would arrange for your installation to be ‘adopted’ by an Independent Distribution Network Operator (iDNO). They will pay a one-off amount to own your installed network and they are responsible for the entire installation in terms of future servicing, maintenance and repair.

Option 3: Use the DNO and your electrical contractor

The DNO supplies a single electricity supply for you (called the intake) and then you use an electrical contractor to split this into the multiple supplies you need. In some regions, the DNO will provide you with individual MPANs (multiple Meter Point Administration Numbers – which essentially means they allow individual meters).

Other DNOs will only allow a single metered supply. Your electrical contractor would then split this into individual metered supplies through sub metering. You will only receive one bulk bill from the electricity supplier and you will need to determine who will be responsible for the separate billing of the individual premises. This could be a management company or be outsourced to a specialist company. Most clients find this is not ideal.

In Option 3, the DNO will only be responsible for the installation up to the intake position. The servicing, maintenance and repair of the onward network to the individual meters is the responsibility of the Building Network Operator. This is the Building Owner or could be a contractor appointed by the building owner.

In short, it means if a property loses power and the fault is between the intake and the individual meter, it is the responsibility of the Building Owner to reinstate the supply. The electricity supplier or DNO will not do anything.

Option 4: Use an alternative provider and your electrical contractor

An Independent Connection Provider (ICP), like Rock Power Connections installs the new electricity supply up to the intake position and your electrical contractor splits this into individual supplies. The installation up to the intake is adopted by an IDNO and they provide individual MPANs to prevent the need for submetering.

Whilst the Building owner is still responsible for the upkeep of the installation between the intake to the individual meters, it does allow you to benefit from the IDNO paying to adopt the installation. Essentially, you will get a more competitive quotation.

This can be a great option if you have a trusted electrical contractor in place but want a competitive quote compared to the DNO’s offer.

A summary of the four options

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