Contestability in Connections: A Call for Evidence

17 September 2014


The Utility Regulator (The Authority) has issued a call for evidence from stakeholders within the connections industry. Their aim is to gauge the collective perspective on how the establishment of contestability in connections could work in Northern Ireland.

At present, the connections industry operates as a monopoly. Connection offers are made by either the Transmission or Distribution Network Operator (TNO and DNO respectively). The TNO license is held by SONI Ltd and the DNO license is held by NIE Ltd. While some services carried out by TNO/DNO are considered ‘non-contestable’ for technical or safety reasons, there is potential for competitors to carry out connection activities. The Authority considers that allowing for ‘contestable’ activities in NI has the potential to increase efficiencies within the connections industry and offer choice to customers applying for new connections.

The Authority seeks to form an understanding of the issues present in providing new connections and how these issues impact upon the customer for different connection types. Stakeholders in the connection industry will be encouraged to provide examples of the difficulties that connection applicants are currently facing, as well as evidence of where they feel contestability could bring efficiencies to the connection procedures.

The outcome of the call for evidence will ideally give the Authority an idea as to what role (if any) it can play in improving efficiencies. It accepts that there are a number of reasons why contestability has not already been introduced and it plans to make an assessment of whether the introduction of contestability is beneficial to the consumer will be carried out.

The documentation requested includes a questionnaire aimed at identifying the stakeholder’s understanding of contestability.  There is also room to provide details on specific issues not covered in the questionnaire.  The closing date for submission is 5pm on 31st October 2014.

The Authority also intends to hold a workshop for stakeholders, which will include stakeholder presentations and a summary of their position. This is to take place on 29th October 2014.  Stakeholders wishing to present at this workshop should submit their presentations by 5pm on 8th October 2014.

For more information please contact Neasa Quigley or another member of our Energy Team.