Frequently Asked Questions

Read our FAQs about connections less than 5MW that are open to competition from 28th March 2018 (such as a new home or small business connection). Contact us if you need more information. 


What is contestability?

Contestability, or competition in connections, means that from 28th March 2018, other accredited companies can provide a quotation for, and build, certain elements (called Contestable Works) of a new connection once you have applied for and received a dual offer for your connection from NIE Networks.

For these ‘contestable’ elements of the connection, you will have a choice whether to accept the quotation from us or to accept a quotation from an ICP.

What are NIE Networks’ obligations under Competition Law?

Competition law has two primary objectives:
  • Regulating anti-competitive agreements (the “Chapter I / Art 101 Prohibition”)
  • Preventing “dominant” undertakings from abusing their position (the “Chapter II / Art 102 Prohibition”)

Therefore NIE Networks must treat all ICPs fairly and equally, ensuring that they have full access to any information required to carry out Connection Works in Northern Ireland.

What’s the timescale for the introduction of competition?

From 28th March 2018 the connections market for new distribution connections will be open to competition.

What types of connection are open to contestability?

From 28th March 2018, all new connections and increased loads where a new connection is required will be open to contestability. This means that if you are submitting an application for a new domestic, commercial, generation or multi-site supply, then your application will be eligible to receive a dual offer.

If you are submitting a load change form and your application is for an increased load which requires a new connection then your offer is also eligible to receive a dual offer.

How will Housing Development Sites be affected by Contestability?

Housing sites with 12 or more dwellings will still be priced by multiplying the standard Connection Charge by the number of houses to be connected. This price will make up the Full Works quotation (option 1) in the dual offer.

The Non Contestable Works quotation (option 2) will include costs for the Non-contestable works, ICP design review, ICP inspections and ICP legal review only.

Independent Connections Providers (ICPs)

What is an ICP?

An Independent Connections Provider (ICP) is an accredited company that is entitled to build electricity networks to the specification and quality required for them to be adopted and then maintained by NIE Networks.

In order to carry out Contestable Works, ICPs must be accredited under the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme [link opens in a new window].

Where can I find a list of Accredited ICPs in Northern Ireland?

A full list of ICPs accredited to perform Contestable Works in Northern Ireland can be found on the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme [link opens in a new window].

How do I get a quote from, and appoint an ICP?

NIE Networks will send out a dual offer for the connection. You can then take this dual quote to an accredited ICP and receive their quotation to carry out the Contestable Works if they operate within your market segment.

If you choose to appoint an ICP you should inform NIE Networks upon acceptance of option 2 in your dual offer by filling in the ICP Nomination Form included with your dual offer.

You should return this ICP Nomination Form with your Acceptance of Terms. NIE Networks cannot offer advice or assistance in the appointment of an ICP.

Can I appoint a local contractor to carry out the Contestable Connection Works in my offer?

No. You may only appoint an Independent Connections Provider (ICP) who is accredited to undertake the Contestable Works applicable to your offer. A full list of ICPs accredited to perform Contestable Works in Northern Ireland can be found on the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme [link opens in a new window].

I have sent back my ICP Nomination Form but I have now changed my mind and wish to appoint a different ICP. What should I do?

If you wish to appoint a different ICP, you should inform NIE Networks as soon as possible using the contact details on your Terms Letter.

You are liable to be charged for two design reviews if both the first and second ICPs submit designs for the Connection to NIE Networks. NIE Networks shall at their discretion refund only part of your payment to cover costs incurred in dealing with the first ICP.

Dual Offer

What is a Dual Offer?

When you apply to NIE Networks for a new connection, NIE Networks will determine the Point of Connection (POC) to the network, complete a design for the connection and create quotations for NIE Networks to perform either the Full Connection Works or the Non-Contestable Works only.

You shall then receive a dual offer from NIE Networks with two options. You may only select one option when accepting the offer.
  1. Option 1 – NIE Networks will complete the Full Works
  2. Option 2 – NIE Networks will complete the Non-Contestable Works only.

When contestability happens can I go to someone else for my connection?

NIE Networks is still the distribution network owner and operator; you still have to apply to NIE Networks to connect to the network. You will receive a dual offer from NIE Networks to connect.

You then have a choice to get quotations from accredited ICPs for the Contestable Works, or to choose NIE Networks to carry out the Full Works.

What extra charges will I be paying if I choose to appoint an ICP to carry out the Contestable Works?

If you choose to appoint an ICP to carry out the contestable elements (Contestable Works) of your connection then you will be charged for a review of the ICP’s design, inspections of the ICP’s work, and a review of any legal documentation associated with the Contestable Works e.g. wayleaves. These costs will be included in your Quotation Summary for option 2 of the dual offer.

I have submitted an application for a new Connection before 28th March 2018 but have not yet received an offer to connect to the network.Will I receive a dual offer?

Any applications received by NIE Networks, where an offer has not already been issued by the 28th March, will receive a dual offer.

If NIE Networks have already issued an offer for the connection before 28th March 2018 can I get a dual offer?

If you have received an offer from us before 28th March, but have not accepted it, and the 90 day validity period on your offer is still valid on or after 28th March 2018, then you may request a dual offer from us.

Your original offer will still remain valid until the stated expiry date. Therefore you will have three valid connection offers: Option 1 in the dual offer, Option 2 in the dual offer and your original connection offer.

If I have already accepted an offer issued before 28th March 2018 for NIE Networks to perform the full Connection Works, can I still get a dual offer?

No. If you have accepted your connection offer prior to the 28th March and wish to receive a dual offer then you must cancel your application and reapply.

You can do this by contacting our customer call centre and quoting your JMS reference number printed on the acknowledgement letter that we issued to you on receipt of your application.

Contestable and Non-Contestable Works

What are Contestable Works and Non-Contestable Works?

A new connection will be made up of Contestable Works and Non-Contestable Works
  • Contestable Works can be carried out by an ICP or by NIE Networks, such as detailed design and construction of a new overhead line.
  • Non-Contestable Works can only be completed by NIE Networks, such as final connection to the network and work on the existing network.

How do I find out what works Accreditation is required for?

A list of all works that accreditation is required for can be found on the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme [link opens in a new window].

Carrying out Contestable Works

Who takes responsibility for the contestably constructed assets once they are completed?

NIE Networks and your ICP shall sign an Adoption Agreement before work on your connection begins. After all of the construction works are complete, and if the work is carried out in accordance with NIE Networks’ standards and policies, NIE Networks and the ICP will sign a Completion Certificate.

This allows NIE Networks to adopt the assets and assume ownership of and responsibility for the Contestable Works. Ownership of the assets is taken on by NIE Networks post-energisation of the connection.

How will NIE Networks ensure the work carried out by the ICP is acceptable?

NIE Networks will carry out inspections of the ICP’s work to ensure compliance with NIE Networks’ policies and specifications, which are accessible to ICPs accredited to work in Northern Ireland in our ICP Portal.

Can I employ NIE Networks to carry out the more complex parts of the connection and appoint an ICP to carry out the remainder?

If a customer decides to accept option 2 in their dual offer (NIE Networks shall complete the Non-Contestable Works only), then their appointed ICP must undertake ALL of the Contestable Works.

If I do the work contestably, will NIE Networks still need to be involved in the process?

Even if you decide to get an ICP to undertake the Contestable Works there will still be involvement with NIE Networks to complete the connection.

NIE Networks will complete the Non-Contestable Works and liaise with your appointed ICP to coordinate commissioning and energisation of the Contestable Works. In addition, NIE Networks will be undertaking inspections of the Contestable Works.

Do NIE Networks purchase the contestably constructed assets from the ICP?

No. The customer and ICP must agree to transfer ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the assets to NIE Networks by entering into an Adoption Agreement.

NIE Networks will assume ownership and operational responsibilities for the assets after the assets have been successfully energised and a Completion Certificate has been signed.

What happens if the contestably constructed assets cease to operate according to their specifications after adoption?

As part of the Adoption Agreement, there is a warranty on all assets constructed by ICPs. Therefore, the ICP will be held liable for the cost to repair any malfunction of the assets for the length of the warranty period after its adoption.

Whether the repairs are undertaken by NIE Networks or the ICP will be decided by NIE Networks on a case by case basis, but the ICP will always bear the cost. Network Issues

Will contestability overcome network capacity issues?

The introduction of contestability in Northern Ireland will have no impact on the network capacity issues currently being faced by NIE Networks and SONI. Legal Agreements with Third Party Landowners.

If an ICP pays me more for my wayleave, do NIE Networks have to pay me the same?

NIE Networks will only ever pay the standard charge for a wayleave, easement or lease. When someone other than NIE Networks approaches a landowner to sign a NIE Networks wayleave (e.g. a Customer or ICP) then they must explain to the customer that the NIE Networks wayleave payment will not change.

If an ICP or customer decides to give a one-off payment to a landowner, or comes to some other alternative payment plan with the landowner, this will be in total separation from NIE Networks and will have no impact on our standard wayleave payment. This must be explained to the landowner by the ICP.

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