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01/06/2011: North West first in live electricity trials

The North West is the first region in the country to trial a new approach to electricity connections, offering customers more choice when connecting to the local network.

Electricity North West, which owns the local electricity grid in the region, is the first company in the UK to allow independent providers to connect directly to its network of live electricity cables via mains joints, improving competition in the sector.

Michael Proctor, Connections Manager for Electricity North West said: “When a domestic customer, business or local authority wants a new connection to our electricity network, they can use Electricity North West, or they can ask an independent provider to make the connection.

“Currently independent providers can’t connect to live mains joints for safety reasons. So while they can disconnect or amend existing supplies, they can’t create new ones.

“This trial allows these independent companies to do more, allowing more competition for work, and ultimately more choice for customers.”

Trials are currently running on street lighting connections in Blackpool with E.ON Energy Solutions. By allowing these ‘unmetered’ local authority connections to be carried out by independent companies, local authorities would have more choices available to them in trying to secure a better deal for taxpayers.

The trials follow a specific request from the energy regulator Ofgem, for electricity network operators such as Electricity North West to support the development of more competition on their networks. Further trials are planned with both low and high voltage metered connections for domestic and business customers.

Information from these trials will be shared across the country with other Distribution Network Operators so that competition can be improved throughout the industry.

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