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Community Energy FAQ

What is the electricity network and how does it work?

The transmission network transports electricity over big distances at high voltage (275 kV or 400 kV in England and Wales) from large generators and is managed by National Grid. The distribution network links to the transmission network and manages the flow to domestic and commercial users and smaller generators at lower voltage (from 132 kV down to 230 V in England and Wales). To generate or use electricity you need a connection to the distribution network which is managed by several Distribution Network Operators (DNOs). 

What size system can I develop at my site?

This will depend on what capacity the network can take on the site, the subsidy support environment and/or distance to a user that you can sell your energy to, the technology of choice, the local planning situation, finance available, and the use of innovative technology options. You should seek professional advice. 

What can I do if the connection offer is too expensive?

We provide alternative connection types in our connection offer, that should help reduce the cost. An animation has been produced to briefly explain these different connections types, available here [embed Youtube]. 

There is also the potential for a consortium approach, to join with other parties to submit a joint application. Alternatively, talk to your local community energy support organisations (e.g. Community Energy England/Scotland/Wales) to explore funding and innovation trial opportunities.

How do I apply for a split ownership project?

WPD will contract with one party only. See page 10 of our Connecting Community Energy – a guide to getting a network connection.

Can a network connection offer be changed?

This depends on the circumstances of the application. In some specific examples, it may be possible. Further details are provided here.

Who is my Distribution Network Operator (DNO)?

Western Power Distribution is one of the largest DNOs and we cover most of the Midlands, south west and Wales.

Check for your DNO by postcode here.

There is a list of contact details for all the different DNOs here.

Who do I contact to get a quote for a network connection?

Western Power Distribution have a dedicated connection team, details here

There is a list of contact details for the other DNOs here.

Who can carry out the network connection work?

There are elements of the work known as ‘non-contestable’, which must be carried out by the DNO and there are parts of the connection for a project, known as ‘contestable works’, that can be carried out by a DNO, an Independent Connection Provider (ICP) or an Independent Distribution Network Operators (IDNO). There are benefits and drawbacks for using each.
 

Type of Works
 
Who can complete this?
 
Non-contestableDistribution Network Operator (DNO)
ContestableDistribution Network Operator (DNO)

Independent Connection Provider (ICP) 

Independent Distribution Network Operators (IDNO)

 

There is more information here.

At what stage in a project should I think about applying for a network connection?

At the earliest possible stage. There may be limited available network capacity in your area, which could shape your project. We are obliged to provide a connection to you, but the cost may be prohibitive if there is no available capacity and significant reinforcement work is required. Contact us to find out more. 

How do I find out if there is any network capacity in my area?

Western Power Distribution has provided capacity maps, or ‘heat maps’, for the areas we cover that give an indication of available capacity, available here. Otherwise, you will need to contact us directly for more information, details here.

What is the process to gain a network connection?

  • Apply for your connection to Western Power Distribution 
  • We (and/ or ICP) will provide a quotation. 
  • Accept the quotation and arrange payment 
  • We (and/ or ICP) will notify you and complete the works 
  • A new Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) is provided which is used by your energy supplier to fit a meter.

For more details, view our Connecting Community Energy – a guide to getting a network connection

What if I'm interested in connecting electricity storage to the network?

The process for connecting electricity storage is similar to the standard connection process outlined above. There is a national guide to electricity storage aimed at community energy groups and independent developers who are looking to develop electricity storage projects and want to know how to get connected to the network.

For more details, view the Energy Networks Association – electricity storage guide for communities and independent developers.

What role does a community group have in the process of gaining a network connection offer?

Community groups can complete the process themselves or use specialist knowledge from an installer or consultant. 

What do I need to get a network connection quotation?

  • Contact details and site address 
  • Do you need a budget or a formal offer? 
  • A site layout plan showing where the connection is required 
  • The maximum capacity of the connection 
  • The type e.g. demand or generation 
  • Any special equipment characteristics 

How long does the process take to get a quotation?

There are specific timescales to limit time taken to provide a quotation, with compensation if deadlines are missed. We (or an IDNO/ICP) will then advise how long the work will take. 

See page 21 of our Connecting Community Energy – a guide to getting a network connection.

What is an innovation trial and how can communities get involved?

Following two national events looking at 

innovation and community energy, Regen working with the Energy Networks Association have produced, the Rough guide to Engaging Communities in Energy Network Innovation. This guide explores how DNOs can positively engage local communities in innovation and how communities can get themselves into the best position to grasp the opportunity.

We have completed and are delivering various innovation trials, details here.

What are the cost implications of gaining a network connection offer?

The quotation for works for the project in question is free of charge. If you choose to accept the quote then you will have to cover the cost, which can be via scheduled payments in some instances. See page 18 of our Connecting Community Energy – a guide to getting a network connection

How long is my connection offer valid for?

There are varied lengths depending on your project and the area you are applying in. Your quotation will contain this information. 

Who do I contact if I have a complaint about WPD?

We are committed to providing you with excellent customer service, first time, every time.

Sometimes, however, things can go wrong. We want to know when this happens so that we can sort out any problems as quickly as possible.

Please click here for all the information you need to use our complaints procedure.

If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can refer it to Ofgem. See Ofgem’s guidance on determination of disputes here.