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There are fourteen licensed geographically defined areas, based on the former area electricity board boundaries, where the distribution network operator distributes electricity from the transmission grid to homes and businesses. Under the Utilities Act 2000 they are prevented from supplying electricity; this is done by a separate electricity supply company, chosen by the consumer, who makes use of the distribution network.
Distribution network operators are also responsible for allocating the core Meter Point Administration Number used to identify individual supply points in their respective areas, as well as operating and administering a Meter Point Administration System that manages the details relating to each supply point. These systems then populate ECOES (Electricity Central Online Enquiry Service), the central online database of electricity supply points. Their trade association is the Energy Networks Association.
In 1990, the area boards were replaced by regional electricity companies, which were then privatised. The distribution network operators are the successors to the distribution arms of the regional electricity companies. The distribution network operators have a trade association called the Energy Networks Association
At September 2013, six company groups hold the fourteen distribution licences:
|GSP Group ID||Area ID||Area||Company|
|_A||10||East England||UK Power Networks|
|_B||11||East Midlands||Western Power Distribution|
|_C||12||London||UK Power Networks|
|_D||13||North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire||Scottish Power Energy Networks|
|_E||14||West Midlands||Western Power Distribution|
|_F||15||North East England||Northern Powergrid (Northeast)|
|_G||16||North West England||Electricity North West|
|_P||17||North Scotland||SSE (Scottish Hydro Electric)|
|_N||18||South Scotland||Scottish Power Energy Networks|
|_J||19||South East England||UK Power Networks|
|_H||20||Southern England||SSE (Southern Electric)|
|_K||21||South Wales||Western Power Distribution|
|_L||22||South West England||Western Power Distribution|
|_M||23||Yorkshire||Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)|
In addition to the distribution network operators noted above who are licensed for a specific geographic area there are also independent distribution network operators (IDNO). IDNOs own and operate electricity distribution networks which will predominantly be network extensions connected to the existing distribution network, e.g. to serve new housing developments. Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution also provide distribution services in South Scotland as an IDNO and Southern Electric Power Distribution provide IDNO services in all other England and Wales areas. The IDNOs have no geographically defined "base" area.
|Area ID||Name||Licensee||MPAS Operator ID|
|24||Envoy||Independent Power Networks||IPNL|
|25||ESP Electricity||ESP Electricity||LENG|
|26||Energetics||Global Utilities Connections (Electric) Ltd||GUCL|
|27||GTC||The Electricity Network Company Ltd||ETCL|
|28||EDF IDNO||UK Power Networks (IDNO) Ltd||EDFI|
|29||HARLAXTON ENERGY NETWORKS LTD||Harlaxton (IDNO)||HARL|
|30||Leep Electricity Networks Ltd||Leep Electricity Networks (IDNO)||PENL|
|31||UK Power Distribution Ltd||UK Power Distribution Ltd||UKPD|
|32||Utility Distribution Networks||Utility Distribution Networks||UDNL|
A further, smaller level of distribution is the Building Network Operator (BNO), usually a company employed by the building owner, in a large building with many meters, such as a block of private flats. In this case the DNO may act as BNO and its responsibility may include the sub-mains to the individual flats, or DNO responsibility may end at the first incomer, in which case the independent BNO is responsible for the secure distribution cabling 'laterals' between that point and the individual fuses and meters. This arrangement is a relatively new development, historically such cabling would have been maintained and sealed by electricity boards that preceded the DNOs, and different DNOs supplying buildings of different sizes and conditions, may choose to adopt the wiring in the building or to insist that an independent BNO is appointed. Unlike a DNO or an IDNO, BNOs are exempted from any registration requirement by schedules 2 and 3 of The Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 2001 and this allows those responsible for the building network (such as a housing association) to employ any suitable electrical contractor on an ad-hoc basis.
- "The GB electricity distribution network". Ofgem.gov.uk. Ofgem. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "The Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a Licence) Order 2001".