Energy
Get connected

The often overlooked issue of utility connections can cause major headaches for leisure operators. The Energy Desk’s Noah Andrie talks us through the secrets of hooking up to the right power supply

By Noah Andrie | Published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 1


The power socket is a vital commodity that the 21st century is at risk of failing to appreciate. When we plug in and switch on, we take for granted that we have power in constant flow at our fingertips. This isn’t our fault; we've had decades of undisrupted power supplies – with the exception of the occasional blackout. However, there's a world of complexity behind the effortlessness of simply turning on a light switch.

The business end of all utility supplies is the point of connection. Any new development will of course require a power supply, and its type will vary depending on the size of the building and the amount of equipment in it. A small-scale development may be able to merely connect to the existing power network, which is quite a simple process. But if you’re commissioning an epic new-build leisure complex, you’re inevitably dealing with multiple connections, redesigned infrastructure, reinforced cabling, pipeline upgrades and complex legal agreements. Not quite such a simple process.

So why would we need to bother ourselves with such convoluted and complex details? That’s a good question when you assume that the utility connections industry is on the ball. However, the reality is rather different. When a new leisure facility is being built, for example, it will obviously come with a very time-sensitive build schedule. It is an unfortunate fact that the arrangement of utility connections ranks among the most common causes of delay in construction projects.

Last year, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) reported that 55 per cent of contractors reported problems with electricity connections. Though this is a slight improvement on the 64 per cent reported in 2008, there's a long way to go before the industry is at the top of its game.

Utilities regulator OFGEM has attempted to set this issue to rights by encouraging increased competition in the connections industry, while also imposing fines on companies that don’t meet statutory timescales and standards. In spite of this, the industry in general is failing to keep up the pace. There remains a high level of dissatisfaction and, as a result, by December 2013 network operators will be answerable to a test of competence or face investigation.

So what happens in the interim? Obviously the industry has some work to do until it can deliver point of connection services to a cost-effective standard, without throwing new-build development projects over budget and delaying them past scheduled completion. Nevertheless, there are solutions.

In order to ensure you're getting the best service, it's vital that you take advantage of the competition out there. Shopping around will pay off. It's also good to get yourself some protection; by enlisting the support of an Energy Service Company to manage the process for you, you have a safeguard should you run into trouble.

In 2010, one of our clients, the Crown Plaza in Westminster, required a high voltage power supply to feed a 1,000-bed hotel. Having taken the traditional route of applying to the Distribution Network Operator, the project met a few delays and threatened to go over budget. That's where The Energy Desk came in. Through our industry knowledge and by shopping around, we were able to save six months and approximately £100,000.

Finding the best option with the right supplier and at the right cost is achievable. Managing a new utility connection can be done smoothly and without obstacles – it's just a case of speaking to the right people.

CASE STUDY

Client: Chardon Management Ltd
Project: Holiday Inn Southend

In spring 2012 The Energy Desk was approached by Chardon Management Ltd, which was operating the new four-star Holiday Inn Southend.

The Energy Desk was introduced to Holiday Inn Southend at the later stages of the project and worked in partnership with Chardon Management to secure new connections for the hotel.
In order to overcome these challenges, The Energy Desk was appointed to work alongside Chardon Management to oversee the sourcing and installation of utility meters as well as reviewing electricity and gas contracts to get the best price going forwards.

This resulted in reducing delays and securing good sustainable energy prices. The Energy Desk also installed a web-based energy management tool at no extra cost, allowing Chardon to monitor, manage and minimise energy consumption.

 



The Holiday Inn Southend
Utility Connections

Ask TED, The Energy Desk’s specialist help desk, answers your questions

If I need a new gas or electricity connection for a new building, who will arrange the connection?
There are various options here but builders and developers will still generally approach the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO), which is licensed to distribute the electricity or gas and can install the required equipment for a new connection. In this case the DNO is responsible for the connection but they can sub-contract some of the work, which incurs an additional charge.

Who installs my electric meter?
The assumption here is often that the DNO will supply and install the meter but this is not the case. The supplier will do this and this requires at least 28 days notice to ensure installation is done on time. However, if you are dealing with tight time frames you can employ the industry knowledge of an energy services company and reduce this down to approximately 15 days.  

How do I work out how big my connection supply should be?
A building will always have a maximum demand, which is the maximum amount of electricity being used at any one time. This is carefully calculated on the basis of the nature and size of the equipment you will be using. The supply will also allow for expansion should you start using more equipment later down the line. 

How do I know who the best connections provider is?
There's an assumption that there's a lack of competition out there and because of this the automatic port of call is the Distribution Network Operator. However, there are over 100 Lloyd’s accredited Independent Connection Provider (ICPs) that are often 10 to 20 per cent cheaper that the local DNO. It’s important to review your options and compare quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal. 

What should I do if I already have a connection but need to increase my gas or electricity capacity?
The application for this is much the same as applying for a new connection. This can be managed on your behalf by an energy services company or you can apply directly to your Distribution Network Operator. You will need to know what size connection you need to upgrade to.

 



The Energy Desk
Problems with the management of utility connections can result in costly delays for new projects Credit: balein/shutterstock.com
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 1

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Get connected

Energy

Get connected


The often overlooked issue of utility connections can cause major headaches for leisure operators. The Energy Desk’s Noah Andrie talks us through the secrets of hooking up to the right power supply

Noah Andrie, The Energy Desk
Don't take your power supply for granted – it's important to get the right supplier at the right cost balein/shutterstock.com
Problems with the management of utility connections can result in costly delays for new projects balein/shutterstock.com

The power socket is a vital commodity that the 21st century is at risk of failing to appreciate. When we plug in and switch on, we take for granted that we have power in constant flow at our fingertips. This isn’t our fault; we've had decades of undisrupted power supplies – with the exception of the occasional blackout. However, there's a world of complexity behind the effortlessness of simply turning on a light switch.

The business end of all utility supplies is the point of connection. Any new development will of course require a power supply, and its type will vary depending on the size of the building and the amount of equipment in it. A small-scale development may be able to merely connect to the existing power network, which is quite a simple process. But if you’re commissioning an epic new-build leisure complex, you’re inevitably dealing with multiple connections, redesigned infrastructure, reinforced cabling, pipeline upgrades and complex legal agreements. Not quite such a simple process.

So why would we need to bother ourselves with such convoluted and complex details? That’s a good question when you assume that the utility connections industry is on the ball. However, the reality is rather different. When a new leisure facility is being built, for example, it will obviously come with a very time-sensitive build schedule. It is an unfortunate fact that the arrangement of utility connections ranks among the most common causes of delay in construction projects.

Last year, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) reported that 55 per cent of contractors reported problems with electricity connections. Though this is a slight improvement on the 64 per cent reported in 2008, there's a long way to go before the industry is at the top of its game.

Utilities regulator OFGEM has attempted to set this issue to rights by encouraging increased competition in the connections industry, while also imposing fines on companies that don’t meet statutory timescales and standards. In spite of this, the industry in general is failing to keep up the pace. There remains a high level of dissatisfaction and, as a result, by December 2013 network operators will be answerable to a test of competence or face investigation.

So what happens in the interim? Obviously the industry has some work to do until it can deliver point of connection services to a cost-effective standard, without throwing new-build development projects over budget and delaying them past scheduled completion. Nevertheless, there are solutions.

In order to ensure you're getting the best service, it's vital that you take advantage of the competition out there. Shopping around will pay off. It's also good to get yourself some protection; by enlisting the support of an Energy Service Company to manage the process for you, you have a safeguard should you run into trouble.

In 2010, one of our clients, the Crown Plaza in Westminster, required a high voltage power supply to feed a 1,000-bed hotel. Having taken the traditional route of applying to the Distribution Network Operator, the project met a few delays and threatened to go over budget. That's where The Energy Desk came in. Through our industry knowledge and by shopping around, we were able to save six months and approximately £100,000.

Finding the best option with the right supplier and at the right cost is achievable. Managing a new utility connection can be done smoothly and without obstacles – it's just a case of speaking to the right people.

CASE STUDY

Client: Chardon Management Ltd
Project: Holiday Inn Southend

In spring 2012 The Energy Desk was approached by Chardon Management Ltd, which was operating the new four-star Holiday Inn Southend.

The Energy Desk was introduced to Holiday Inn Southend at the later stages of the project and worked in partnership with Chardon Management to secure new connections for the hotel.
In order to overcome these challenges, The Energy Desk was appointed to work alongside Chardon Management to oversee the sourcing and installation of utility meters as well as reviewing electricity and gas contracts to get the best price going forwards.

This resulted in reducing delays and securing good sustainable energy prices. The Energy Desk also installed a web-based energy management tool at no extra cost, allowing Chardon to monitor, manage and minimise energy consumption.

 



The Holiday Inn Southend
Utility Connections

Ask TED, The Energy Desk’s specialist help desk, answers your questions

If I need a new gas or electricity connection for a new building, who will arrange the connection?
There are various options here but builders and developers will still generally approach the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO), which is licensed to distribute the electricity or gas and can install the required equipment for a new connection. In this case the DNO is responsible for the connection but they can sub-contract some of the work, which incurs an additional charge.

Who installs my electric meter?
The assumption here is often that the DNO will supply and install the meter but this is not the case. The supplier will do this and this requires at least 28 days notice to ensure installation is done on time. However, if you are dealing with tight time frames you can employ the industry knowledge of an energy services company and reduce this down to approximately 15 days.  

How do I work out how big my connection supply should be?
A building will always have a maximum demand, which is the maximum amount of electricity being used at any one time. This is carefully calculated on the basis of the nature and size of the equipment you will be using. The supply will also allow for expansion should you start using more equipment later down the line. 

How do I know who the best connections provider is?
There's an assumption that there's a lack of competition out there and because of this the automatic port of call is the Distribution Network Operator. However, there are over 100 Lloyd’s accredited Independent Connection Provider (ICPs) that are often 10 to 20 per cent cheaper that the local DNO. It’s important to review your options and compare quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal. 

What should I do if I already have a connection but need to increase my gas or electricity capacity?
The application for this is much the same as applying for a new connection. This can be managed on your behalf by an energy services company or you can apply directly to your Distribution Network Operator. You will need to know what size connection you need to upgrade to.

 



The Energy Desk

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 1

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd