Large quote from your Distribution Network Operator? What are your options?
Every so often, a client receives a quotation for an electrical connection from their Distribution Network Operator and it is way beyond their expectations.
In this article, we explore the most common reasons for a costly quotation and how to overcome them.
REASON 1: HIGH VOLTAGE VS LOW VOLTAGE
If the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) gives you a High Voltage (HV) cable to connect onto (termed a Point of Connection or PoC), it will instantly elevate your costs as you will require a substation in order to transform the voltage down to a lower level.
Being granted a PoC at Low Voltage (LV) will always be a cheaper option.
However, it all depends on the capacity available on the local network. In our experience, a request for greater than 200kVA usually results in a HV PoC.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: You can always ask the DNO’s design engineer named on the quotation what is the maximum load available on the LV network. You may be able to reduce your load requirements accordingly.
REASON 2: HIGH REINFORCEMENT COSTS
Sometimes, the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) has to upgrade their infrastructure to allow you to connect to their network. This can include upgrading a local substation or even upgrading a primary substation much further away.
They will pass these costs through to you. They will be listed in the non-contestable costs.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: You can ask the DNO’s design engineer what load would be available without the reinforcements and see whether this would be permissible to you.
A prime example is when the Point of Connection is an overhead line and the DNO needs to upgrade the Pole Mounted Transformer in order to provide your load. By asking what load is available on the existing transformer, you may be able to negate this.
Unfortunately, sometimes reinforcement costs are unavoidable.
REASON 3: REINFORCEMENT OF THE DISTRIBUTION NETWORK
Aside from the DNO needing to undertake work in order to provide you with a PoC, they may also be using your request for an electrical connection to help reinforce their network. This will only apply when you are granted a HV PoC.
In reality, this means that the substation within your quotation may be larger than you require and that there may be LV cables running from the substation back to the distribution network.
This is effectively using the spare capacity on your oversized substation to add extra load onto the local LV network. Whilst this is included in your costs, it will serve no benefit to you.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: Check your quotation for the size of the substation listed and for the cited lengths of the LV cables. You can challenge any discrepancies with the DNO.
Alternatively, an Independent Connections Provider (ICP) like Rock Power Connections, can provide a comparative quotation which does not provide any excess supply to the local distribution network.
In addition, we can get your installation adopted by an Independent DNO who will own and maintain your installation in the same way as a DNO, but give you a financial incentive upon energisation.
This can make a compelling and competitive proposition to the DNO.
REASON 4: SECOND-COMER CHARGES
You may have second-comer charges listed on your quotation. These result from The Electricity Connection Charges Regulations (ECCR), also known as the ‘Second Comer’ Regulations.
If a previous customer has had to pay for the network to be reinforced in order to get an electrical connection (e.g. they paid the reinforcement charges on their quotation) and you would be using those upgrades in order to get your supply, then you will be allocated a proportion of the charges. The amount charged usually reflects your requested load.
Sometimes this amount is then refunded to the previous customer; sometimes it is retained by the DNO.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: The regulations apply to any connection made within five years of the first customer’s connection. To avoid second comer chargers, you would need to wait until this time has passed.
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?
With our experience and engineering knowledge, we successfully manage electrical connections on a wide range of projects across the UK. We are very familiar with the quotation process from all DNOs and would happily review your quotation to identify any potential cost-saving alternatives.
We are happy to liaise with the Distribution Network Operator on your behalf, with your permission.