Have a question?
We have put together answers to some frequently asked questions below.
Electricity

What is an MPAN?

MPAN – Meter Point Administration Number is the unique identifier of your electricity supply. It is displayed on every utility bill and it identifies the type of your meter (meter profile) and the distribution area your meter is located in, amongst other things.

Your MPAN will usually look like this – 00 111 222 13 1234 5678 901. The first 8 digits are referred to as the top line and the next 13 digits are referred to as the bottom line or the core MPAN.

What is an MSN?

MSN – Meter Serial Number is the unique identifier of your meter and is usually printed on a sticker on the front of your meter, along with a barcode. MSN is tied to your MPAN and is logged on the central database.

What is a Meter Profile?

The first two digits of your top line refer to your meter profile. They tell you whether you have a domestic, half hourly (HH) or non-half hourly (NHH) meter.

  • 00 – Half-hourly (HH)
  • 01/02 – Domestic
  • 03/04 – Commercial
  • 05/08 – Maximum Demand (MD) – All these meters should have now migrated to a HH profile as part of the P272 legislation

What is a non-half hourly meter?

All meters which do not fall into the category of a half hourly (HH) meter are classed as non-half hourly (NHH)

  • 01/03 METERS
    MPANs that start with 01 or 03 can either be single (Unrestricted) or two rate tariffs (Weekday and Evening Weekend). 01 meters are for domestic use only.
  • 02/04 METERS
    MPANs that start with 02 or 04 can either be Economy 7 (Day and Night) or three rate tariffs (Weekday, Night and Evening Weekend). Some suppliers will offer a ‘combined’ unit rate that allows 02 or 04 meters to be charged on a single rate tariff. 02 meters are for domestic use only.

What is a half hourly meter?

A HH meter is a specialised business electricity meter which records your energy usage on a half hourly basis. It is equipped with a SIM card or connected to a phone line to enable remote communication in order to access meter reads. There is no need for a manual meter read as your supplier receives this data automatically.

This type of meter is mandatory for all businesses with a supply greater than 100kW. HH meters provide invaluable consumption information and you can get detailed breakdowns of your consumption to identify potential savings opportunities. Your energy supplier uses this information in order to provide accurate billing. HH meters are always charged on a day and night tariff.

If you have a half hourly meter, it’s mandatory to appoint a Meter Operator (MOP).

What is a meter operator (MOP) and why do I need a contract?

If you have a half hourly meter, it’s compulsory to appoint a meter operator (MOP) who is responsible for installing, operating and maintaining all of your HH metering and communications equipment.

The MOP is also responsible for providing the technical meter details to the Data Collector (DC) to enable collection of consumption data.

Regardless of who your energy supplier is, you can make an agreement with MOP of your choice.

A standard MOP contract is 5 years and is usually a rental contract so as soon as you switch to a new MOP, your current meter will be replaced by a meter from your new MOP provider.

What is a Data Collector/Data Aggregator (DC/DA) and do I need one?

Every month, the appointed Data Collector (DC) will remotely access your HH meter in order to retrieve and validate the HH data. Once validated, HH data will be passed onto your Data Aggregator (DA) and subsequently forwarded to your supplier for billing.

Usually, DC/DA agents are appointed by your chosen supplier. They may be appointed by the customer, but must always be accredited and contracted to the customer’s energy supplier.

Some DC/DA provide portals to allow customers easy access to their HH data. Customers are able to monitor their consumption, understand their usage and make their business more energy efficient.

What is EAC?

EAC – Estimated Annual Consumption, refers to your annual usage of electricity. In most cases, your annual usage is estimated by your electricity supplier, based on historical data and meter reads provided. If you have a smart meter or an AMR meter, this consumption will be based on actual reads and therefore accurate. Suppliers use this to estimate your annual cost.

What is a Distribution Network/Area?

Electricity distribution networks carry electricity from the high voltage transmission grid to industrial, commercial and domestic users.

There are 32 licensed distribution network operators (DNOs) in Britain and each is responsible for a regional distribution services area. There are 14 DNOs licenced for specific geographic areas and 9 independent ones who don’t have any geographically defined areas (IDNOs).

IDNOs mostly work on residential and public sector developments, but some also offer commercial connections. As they are not bound by geographical locations they can make connections to the grid in any area of the country. They are most commonly found in new build developments and are favoured by developers as they offer a multi utility solutions.

Gas

What is an MPR?

MPR – Meter Point Reference is the unique identifier of your gas meter. It is displayed on every gas bill and along with your meter serial number, it identifies your supply point to your gas supplier.

If the MPR is 10 digits long and begins with 74, 75, 76 & 77 then it is IGT.

What is IGT?

IGT – Independent Gas Transporter

The majority of gas pipes in the UK are operated by National Grid, however private companies are now allowed to provide and operate pipes and connect them to the grid. These are called IGTs.

As with electricity, these are usually found in new developments as they would be installed as part of the multi-utility solution independent companies can provide.

Who are National Grid?

National Grid own, manage and operate most of the gas infrastructure in the UK.

What is AQ?

AQ – Annual Quantity, refers to your annual usage of gas. In most cases, your annual usage is estimated by your gas supplier and is based on historical data and meter reads provided. If you have a smart meter, this consumption will be based on actual reads and therefore accurate. Suppliers use this to estimate your annual cost.

Water

What is deregulation?

The water market in England was deregulated n April 2017. This means that business customers no longer have to choose their regional supplier.

Water charges are now split into two components:

  • Wholesale charge – this is the cost of water and will be the same regardless of which supplier you choose. It is set by the regulator for 5 years, but fluctuates annually, with inflation.
  • Retail charge – This is the cost to serve and is set by your supplier. This is where your savings will come from. This is a new element, as before the deregulation, all charges were wrapped up into one rate.

What is a SPID?

SPID – Supply Point ID is the identifier of your water supply as is linked to your premises.

Is the market deregulated in Wales?

No. Only customers who use over 50 million units of water a year are able to choose their supplier. Anyone else below this threshold still have to stay with their regional supplier.

What if I am in Scotland?

Water in Scotland was deregulated for business in April 2008. The model for Scottish water supply works in the same way as the English market except there is only one wholesaler (Scottish Water).

Smart Meters & AMRs

Why am I being asked to have a smart meter installed?

The government has put legislation in place, which means that all domestic and small business premises should be offered a smart meter by 2020. It is part of a larger strategy to monitor the UK energy usage more accurately. Smart meters can also help customers to monitor and contract their usage closely, potentially cutting costs.

What is a Smart Meter?

Smart meters are currently being rolled out across domestic and small business sites. These meters are produced to an industry standard, called SMETs (Smart Metering Equipment Technical Standard).

Smart meters allow customers to view their usage in real time on a small device usually fitted on their premises.Customers are usually able to see their usage in energy units, as well as pounds.

They are operated by a centralised communications company and there are currently two classes.

  • SMETs1 – This is an older version of a smart meter and most customers with smart meters will have these installed. Sometimes, these meters are only compatible with the supplier that installed them, meaning that if you switch supplier, the “smart” functionality may be lost and you will have to provide meter reads.
  • SMETs2 – This is a newer version which is produced to a standard and compatible with all suppliers (unless the supplier specifically states that they are unable to support smart meters). From March 2019, suppliers should only install SMETs2 meters.

It is completely your decision whether you want to have a smart meter installed or keep using your standard meter.

What is an AMR?

AMR meters create a communication channel between the customer’s meter and the energy supplier, which allows the supplier to collect usage data, meaning accurate billing data for the customer. Normally, this data will be available to the energy supplier on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Since May 2018, suppliers can only install AMR meters at larger non-domestic premises and only SMETs compliant meters can be installed on domestic and smaller non-domestic premises.

What is a data logger?

Data loggers are a type of an AMR device, which is connected to your meter (usually gas or water). They record ‘pulses’ which are then converted into usage units to enable your supplier to bill you accurately.

Can I have one installed?

Most suppliers will contact you about a smart meter when they are ready to start installations in your area. If you would like to have one installed sooner, you can contact your supplier and register your interest/request installation.

Will I be charged more?

Most suppliers offer a free of charge installation and you will not see any changes in your rates.

Billing

What is Standing Charge?

Standing charge works a little bit like line rental on your phone bill. You pay for having access to your gas or electricity and then pay unit rate on top, based on what you use. The charge is usually used to cover cost of the meter maintenance, manual meter reads and when it comes to gas, the gas emergency service.

Some suppliers offer tariffs without a standing charge, which might benefit some people, but we would suggest that you always check both options to find out which is more cost effective for you.

What is unit rate?

Unit rate is what you pay for your each unit of gas/electricity that you use.

When it comes to electricity, there are a number of rates suppliers might charge you, depending on the type of your meter. These include day, night and evening & weekend rates.

There are other factors that affect how expensive your unit rate is, for example your annual usage or the distribution are you are in.

Normally, you will only be given one unit rate for gas and again, prices will vary depending on area, usage and the type of your meter.

What is CCL and do I have to pay it?

CCL – Climate Change Levy is a government tax charged on the amount of electricity and gas you use. It applies to UK businesses and its aim is to encourage businesses to be more energy efficient.

Reduced Rate

Energy Intensive Industries are able to sign into a Climate Change Agreement (CCA) with the Environmental Agency. It is a voluntary agreement in which companies agree to reduce their energy use and emissions. This agreement is only available to certain business sectors and companies receive 90% discount on the CCL rate.

Exemptions

Charities and customers with an average usage of 1000 kWh per month for electricity and 4397 kWh per month for gas are exempt from paying CCL. They will also qualify for 5% VAT rate.

What are billing periods?

This is is the amount of days you get charged for on your bill. Some suppliers charge monthly and some quarterly. Always check that the billing periods follow on from one bill to the next to ensure that you are not being charged twice, especially when you change supplier.

What is the difference between fixed and variable DD?

When you pay by fixed direct debit, your supplier takes your estimated annual cost and divides it by 12 to get a fixed monthly amount. Your supplier might adjust this amount, if you provide meter reads and they feel that you use more/less than originally estimated.

With variable direct debit, you will be charged for the amount you use. This is based on your smart meter readings.If you do not have a smart meter, your supplier will estimate your usage based on historical data or base your bill on the meter reads you provide.

Why is my bill higher than usual?

There could be a few reasons a higher than usual bill.

  • Catch-up bill – You provided meter reads and your supplier has billed you for ‘actual usage’. The longer you leave it between providing meter reads, the higher your catch-up bill could be.
  • New equipment – If you’ve recently added more equipment to your premises that uses gas/electricity, this will be reflected on your bill.
  • Falling out of contract – If you have not agreed a new contract with your current, or another supplier then you will be put on a variable tariff, which will likely be more expensive than your contract rates, making your bill more expensive.
  • Error – suppliers make mistakes sometimes. Perhaps your day and night reads have been transposed or you have been charged an incorrect util rate. We suggest that you always check your bill for any inconsistencies.
Renewable Energy

What is renewable energy?

The term renewable refers to energy sources that cannot be exhausted, for example energy generated from sun, wind and biomass.

What is the difference between renewable and green?

Green energy is renewable energy which is carbon neutral (meaning that generation of energy does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere).

Renewable energy does not have to be carbon neutral. This includes burning biomass and methane, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Suppliers can buy carbon offsets to fund projects that contribute towards reducing carbon emissions.

Can I request to be supplied by renewable energy?

Unless you generate your own energy on site, even when you purchase a ‘green tariff’ from a renewable supplier, you might not receive the renewable energy yourself.

By buying a renewable product, you are funding schemes that provide renewable energy to the grid. This means that the grid has a proportion of renewable supply, but this is mixed in with brown supply.

If all customers bought renewable products then the grid would eventually become 100% renewable.

When you purchase a renewable product, you can request to receive a certificate from the supplier to display on your premises to show that you have made this commitment to the environment.

Downloadable guides
Glossary

AMR

Automatic Meter Reader

AQ

Annual Quantity

CCL

Climate Change Levy

CED

Contract End Date

COO/COT

Change of Occupancy/Change of Tenancy

CSD

Contract Start Date

DA/DC

Data Aggregator/Data Collector

EAC

Estimated Annual Consumption

FiT

Feed in Tariff

HH

Half Hourly

HV

High Voltage

IGT

Independent Gas Transporter

KVA

Available Capacity

kWh

kilo Watt hour

LOA

Letter of Authority

LV

Low Voltage

MOP

Meter Operator

MPAN

Meter Point Administration Number

MPR

Meter Point Reference

MSN

Meter Serial Number

NHH

Non Half Hourly

SC

Standing Charge

OOC

Out of Contract