‘I need more power’ - it’s a common request experienced by landlords, letting agents and commercial estate agents across the country.
Be it a client acquiring a new site for development, a growing client needing extra power or when a tenant moves into a property which doesn’t have sufficient power, they face power challenges on a daily basis. But, are they easily resolved?
In brief, yes, you just need to understand how or why a new or increased power supply is required, and understand what steps you need to take in order to secure an additional electrical connection.
A request for an increased power supply usually occurs when a growing business wants to purchase new machinery or extend their premise and the existing power supply is at capacity. Or perhaps a new tenant moves into a premise which does not have sufficient capacity for their needs.
The property or premise will have an existing supply agreement in place with the Distribution Network Operator or ‘DNO’, which owns the electricity network in the region, and will confirm the amount of electricity you can draw from the local network.
If your tenant only needs a minor increase in power, you may be able to change the supply agreement with the DNO. This could be a very simple paperwork exercise, but will depend on whether the existing cables and switchgear are sized adequately for the increased demand.
If the extra capacity is not available via your current connection, you will need a new or increased supply to the premise to cover the entire amount.
It's important to note that the DNO will not let your tenant have two separate power supplies into the same premise, so they will not be able to obtain a new electrical supply as a ‘top-up’ for the additional amount of power required.
Challenges of electrical connections
There are a number of key challenges to consider when securing an increased power supply for your tenant. The main one is the long lead time.
If the electrical load is only available from the High Voltage network (usually loads over 200kVA), then it can take in the region of four to six months to get the new supply installed.
For example, a manufacturing unit with a high peak demand may require its own substation to enable the increased supply. In this scenario, the electrical connection ‘design’ will need to be approved by the DNO and a legal process which determines ownership and responsibility for the installed equipment can take between 3 – 4 months to be completed, before the new supply can be energised.
Competition in connections
In 2000, industry regulator Ofgem introduced the development of competition for electricity connections. When previously only the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) could provide the service, competition in connections ensured that customers wanting a new or upgraded electricity connection would receive a high-quality service at a fair price from alternative providers.
To be an alternative provider, you need to be accredited through the National Electricity Registration Scheme (NERS) as an Independent Connections Provider (ICP). The development of these ICP’s such as Rock Power has created choice and a level of competitiveness in the market.
The move towards ‘Competition in Connections’ has also heralded other additional benefits. If an upgraded supply is installed by an ICP, it can be owned (although the industry term tends to be ‘adopted’) by an Independent Distribution Network Operator (iDNO).
These companies purchase the installed equipment (cables and any substation switchgear) upon energisation of the supply. As well as being responsible for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep, they will also offer a financial kick-back at energisation which is known as an Asset Value. Ultimately, this can make the installation more commercially competitive than using the DNO.
You may have a site which requires multiple electrical supplies. Typical examples would include a business park with multiple units or an existing premise which is being converted into several units.
Some of the regional DNOs will only provide one bulk supply and not install the electrical network to split it into individual connections. In this case, you may have to submeter if you want each premise to have an individual supply.
Alternatively, if an ICP designs and installs the supply and it is adopted by an iDNO, you can have individual meters which the IDNO will own and operate.
What is the key message to Estate Agents who manage property on the behalf of Landlords? You have options, and more importantly, you have a choice when it comes to connections. All that’s required is an energy-savvy mindset, a little more research and a willingness to contact a trusted ICP, like Rock Power Connections.
*Kev Sankar is Commercial Director of Rock Power Connections