Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question about contestability for connections projects 5MW or greater, please see the list below. Contact us for more information.


How will contestability impact me?

Contestability or competition in connections means that going forward other accredited companies can provide a quotation for and build certain elements of a new network connection. For these ‘contestable’ elements of the connection, you will have a choice whether to get NIE Networks to carry out these works or look elsewhere.

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. In order to carry out contestable works, ICPs must be accredited under the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme (NERS).

What are contestable and non-contestable works?

A new connection will be made up of contestable 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.


What type of connection is contestability available for?

From 31st May 2016, contestability is available for connections of 5MW and greater- this covers both generation and load connections. Only the distribution works are available for contestability at present. Transmission connections works are not currently available for contestability.

Is there a certain application form I need to fill out?

Yes. There are new application forms on the website for load and generation connections of 5MW and greater. If you have not already previously applied then you should fill out the appropriate form and submit it to NIE Networks to process your connection.

What is a ‘non-contestable offer’?

When you apply to connect, NIE Networks will issue you an offer for NIE Networks to carry out ‘All works’ required for your connection.

This is a ‘non-contestable’ offer.


What is a contestable offer?

A ‘contestable’ offer is an offer for NIE Networks to carry out the non-contestable works along with any review and oversight of the contestable works.

How do I request a contestable offer from NIE Networks?

There are two ways that you can request a contestable connection offer

  1. Either, fill out a new application form for a 5MW connection and tick the box on the back page to request a contestable connection offer
  2. Or, submit a ‘contestable connection offer request form’ to NIE Networks. This request must be received no later than 10 days after your non-contestable offer is issued.

When contestability happens do I still need to apply to NIE Networks for my connection?

NIE Networks is still the distribution network owner and operator; customers still have to apply to NIE Networks to connect to the network. When you receive an offer to connect from NIE Networks, you will then be able to decide if you want to have an ICP carry out the contestable works. For the first phase this will only be available for connections of 5MW or greater.

I have been on hold due to network capacity issues- can I now get someone else to connect me instead of waiting on NIE Networks?

The introduction of contestability in Northern Ireland will have no impact on the network capacity issues currently being faced by NIE Networks and SONI. At present there are customers who have not received an offer to connect because of these capacity issues. A customer must always apply to NIE Networks for a connection offer to the distribution system. They can then request a ‘contestable connection offer’ at any stage up to 10 days after they receive our ‘full’ offer to connect.

Where can I find out a list of ICPs who could carry out my connection works?

A list of all ICPs who are accredited to carry out works within Northern Ireland is on the Lloyds Register NERS website [link opens in a new window].

Where can I find out more information on what is contestable and what isn’t?

More information can be found in the ‘Contestability Implementation Guidelines’ document on the NIE Networks’ website and ICP portal.

I’m planning to connect a solar farm of 4.99MW- can I get a contestable offer?

Only connections of 5MW and greater are available for contestability at present. If the connection size is increased to 5MW or above then contestability will be an option.

I’m not sure what size my connection is- but I want it to be contestable- how should I apply?

First you will need to work out your demand or export requirements. You will need this information in order to apply for a connection. You can engage a consultant or electrician to work out what your capacity requirements are if you are uncertain. You can only get a contestable offer for a connection of 5MW or greater.

I don’t want a non-contestable offer from NIE Networks; can I just get a contestable offer?

Unfortunately in order for NIE Networks to meet existing licence obligations and duties we have to issue a ‘full’ offer to customers for NIE Networks to carry out all the works required to make a new connection. This is a non-contestable offer. You can also request to get a ‘contestable connection offer’ in addition to this at no extra cost.

How long will it take before I can get my contestable offer?

You will have up to 10 days after the issue of your non-contestable offer to request a contestable offer. NIE Networks will work to issue a contestable connection offer within 25 days of the request. If you request your contestable offer before the non-contestable offer is issued NIE Networks will immediately begin to process this request after the issue of your ‘full’ or ‘non-contestable’ offer.

How long do I have to decide if I want to get someone else to do the contestable works in my offer?

Both of your connection offers will be valid for 90 days from the date of issue of the first quote or until one of the quotes has been accepted. If you accept the contestable offer the non-contestable offer will cease to be valid and vice versa. If you do not accept either offer within this timeframe they will both expire and you will need to reapply for a connection.

I got my contestable offer and have got a price from an ICP to do the work which is cheaper than NIE Networks. Will NIE Networks reduce their price for the work to match/beat the ICP?

NIE Networks will be offering customers the lowest cost technically acceptable solution to connect (unless the customer asks for something else). Therefore there is no scope for NIE Networks to try and cut the cost of the connection in order to undercut an ICP.

I have received my contestable offer however I only want to do some of the contestable works- can I get NIE Networks to do the rest?

If a customer decides to accept a ‘contestable offer’ they are signing up to undertake all of the contestable works. It is not a ‘pick’n’mix’ of activities.

If I do the work contestably, do I still need to engage with NIE Networks?

Yes, 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 undertake the non-contestable works and will coordinate this directly with you or your chosen ICP. This work includes commissioning and energisation of the contestable works. In addition NIE Networks will also be undertaking inspections and audits of the contestable works as these assets will be adopted on to the distribution system.

Will I get paid by NIE Networks to adopt the assets?

No, NIE Networks will not make any payment for adopted assets. The customer is required to pay the cost for any connection works to whoever is carrying out the work. Providing the assets are built in accordance with our specifications and policies they will be adopted and maintained by NIE Networks.

I am a landowner and an ICP is willing to pay me more money to sign a wayleave- will NIE Networks pay me the same money?

NIE Networks will only ever pay the standard charge for a wayleave, easement or lease. If an ICP or customer decides to give a one-off payment to a landowner or come to some other alternative payment plan with the landowner, this will be in total isolation from NIE Networks and will have no impact on our standard wayleave payment.

Can I get a local contractor to carry out the contestable connections works in my offer?

In order to carry out contestable works, ICPs must be accredited under the Lloyds Register National Electricity Registration Scheme (NERS). For details on how to become accredited visit the NERS website [link opens in a new window].

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 NERS website [link opens in a new window].

Where can I get access to all NIE Networks’ specification and policies?

All of this information will be available on the NIE Networks’ ICP Portal. A link to this can be found through the website. Anyone can register to get access to this portal, all that is required is a valid email address.

Where can I see a copy of the adoption agreement?

A copy of this will be on the ICP Portal

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