Are you [unknowingly] a Building Network Operator?
If you’re involved in a development with multiple meters – such as apartments or mixed use - there’s a chance that your electrical connection offer from the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) might contain the phrase “Building Network Operator” or “BNO installation”.
But, do you understand the implications of this and are you really getting what you need?
In simple words, what does “BNO installation” mean?
A BNO network is the electrical installation from the cutout to individual meters that is owned by the building owner, instead of by the Distribution Network Operator (DNO).
It is privately-owned cables and distribution boards, sometimes called ‘laterals and risers’.
Does the internal network have to be owned by the Building Owner?
No. In some regions, the DNO will own and operate the entire installation right through to the meters. You can also work with an Independent Connections Provider, such as Rock Power Connections, to get an Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO) to own and operate the network for you even in regions where the DNO won’t.
What are typical examples of BNO installations?
There are two predominant occurrences when you have a true BNO installation.
1. When you request a new electrical supply for a multi-premise development from your DNO, but they do not undertake works beyond the intake. UKPN covering the South East do not.
For example, you may have a mixed-use development of retail and apartments. In the offer from your DNO, they may offer multiple MPANS so each can have an individually metered supply, but the DNO’s work may stop at the main intake. In this situation, you need to arrange for an alternative contractor to install between the intake and the meter and this will be a BNO installation.
2. When you are converting a property which has an existing supply and the DNO confirms the existing supply is sufficient for your requested capacity.
For example, this is most common when a commercial property is being converted into apartments. There may be an existing bulk metered supply on site, perhaps even a substation owned by the DNO, and they offer you multiple MPANs to repurpose the existing supply for your apartments. An alternative example is an existing commercial property being split into multiple units – on a retail or business park. Once again, you need to arrange for an alternative contractor to install between the intake and the meter and this will be a BNO installation.
What are the responsibilities of a Building Network Operator?
Regardless of who it is, the Building Network Operator will be responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the electrical installation past the intake point.
In short, if there is a fault or issue with the cables, boards, switches or isolators, it is the BNO’s responsibility to resolve it, at their cost.
If the power goes off and the issue is beyond the building intake, it is the BNO’s responsibility to get it back on.
How can you tell if your quotation from the DNO is for a BNO installation?
Some DNOs will provide you with a quotation for the entire installation; others just for the connection to the building even if they do provide you with multiple metering points.
The easiest way to check is to review the quotation letter and plan they sent and check:
- That the number of MPANs reflects the number that you need. An MPAN is a Meter Point Administration Number and you need one for every meter you plan to install. This allows the end-user to be billed directly from their energy supplier.
- If your offer just states one meter for the entire development, everything beyond this would be a private network and submetered.
- If your offer lists the correct number of MPANs, but is proceeded by the words “The MPANs are all fed from one service via a BNO arrangement” then the DNO is stopping at the building intake and expecting you to do the remainder of the installation.
- Check whether the phrase “Building Network Operator” or “BNO arrangement” appears anywhere within the quotation. If so, the DNO is assuming you install and have responsibility for this. Check the ‘Customer’s Responsibilities’ section of the quotation to see exactly what they require you to do.
Is a BNO installation the same as submetering?
No. With a BNO installation, you can still have individual meters so the end user can be billed directly by the energy supplier.
Is it too late?
If you have already accepted the DNO’s offer of works, you can cancel before works begin. This would allow you to get an offer from an alternative provider, such as Rock Power Connections, which can prevent your installation being a BNO installation.
If the installation works are in progress and it is too late for an alternative provider to undertake the works, we can put you in touch with a company who can take on the maintenance and servicing responsibilities for you. Email to find out more.
How to avoid becoming a Building Network Operator?
The simplest solution is to get an alternative quotation for your connection from an Independent Connections Provider (ICP), such as Rock Power Connections. An ICP is an electrical engineering company 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. This includes getting the power back on should a failure occur.
Very often, the down payment from the IDNO (termed an ‘asset value’) will ensure a competitive quotation to the DNO’s.
For more information on your installation options, read our article BNO installations: What are your options?
How can Rock Power Connections help?
As an ICP and an NICEIC contractor, Rock Power Connections can provide a full design and installation service from the distribution network to the individual meters.
If you would like to talk through the specifics of a project and the options available to you, contact Sophie or Emma on 01905 456384, email firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your enquiry here.
We offer a free, no-obligation quotation process and have extensive experience of designing and installing Building Network Operator (BNO) installations.