The new connections market was created on the back of an OFGEM legislation called competition in connection in 2010. This legislation allowed accredited contractors to compete against the distribution network operators (DNO) and make electricity connections within their network area.
The value of the connections market is estimated to be worth in excess £500 million a year with hundreds of thousands of connections completed each year. The OFGEM legislation competition in connection has created competition in this sector to challenge the natural monopoly of the distribution network operators (DNO). This legislation was the driving force behind the creation of independent connection providers (ICP) who are accredited by Lloyds in line with an audited scope in accordance with the national electrical registration scheme (NERS) to carry out electrical connections.
An independent connection provider (ICP) can offer the client a quicker installation and a more cost effective solution than the DNO in addition to being able to fulfil a multi utility service including gas, water and telecoms. The independent connection provider (ICP) is required to use materials that are approved by the adopting network owner so all new connections will be installed in accordance with the distribution network operator (DNO) or independent distribution network operator (IDNO) standards.
The new connections market can be segmented into residential and commercial / industrial sectors based on the scope of work involved. An ICP working in the residential sector will dig, lay and join the waveform mains & concentric and split concentric cables in addition to getting involved in the metering and the connection to the grid. An ICP working on commercial / industrial project will be more involved with transformer and switchgear in the substation and medium voltage infrastructure.
There are currently 298 NERS accredited independent connection providers who undertake over 60% of all new connections which grows each year.