Heat Network Regulations
The Goverment passed legislation on Heat Networks before the General Election. It needs action before the end of the year and includes much more than you'd think . Do you need to comply?
Just before it went into 'Purdah' for the general election, Her Majesty's Government passed a short piece of legislation through parliament called the Heat Networks (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014, which most people – even within the energy industry – seem to be unaware of.
That is probably because most casual observers think that a heat network is something akin to a district heating scheme with lots of buildings connected to an energy centre or centres.
However, the legislation is rather more wide-reaching. It potentially covers every instance where more than one building or customer (even inside the same building) and includes both heating and chilled water supply.
To add to that, you don't even have to be the operator of the plant to be involved, if you purchase heat/cooling from a third party and then resell it (perhaps within their rent) to someone else – you are included.
So a single office building with multiple businesses supplied with heating and/or cooling from a rooftop plant room, for example, falls within the regulations (they define that as 'communal heating' in the guidance document) – and there are thousands of those in the UK.
Similarly blocks of flats with central boiler plant or even houses in multiple occupation (HMO) could be included within the regulations. It specifically includes things like sheltered housing and university halls of residence, so it applies to both the public and private sectors.
However, prisons and nursing homes where all services are provided communally are excluded.
So it is a lot more than district heating schemes that the regulations apply to and many of us will have a site to which a return at least will be required.
The objective seems to be focused on giving the end-users more visibility of their actual energy usage and to ensure that they are correctly billed, and as far as possible, to reflect actual usage rather than just the space they occupy.
The regulations are therefore promoting the use of heat meters to measure consumption and are asking for financial cases to be made for installing (or justifying why they are not installed). But heat meters are expensive and notoriously unreliable, especially if installed incorrectly.
The regulations originally had a submission date of the end of April 2015 for the first return. This has been extended till 31 December 2015 but you need to produce a return containing information about your heat meters and energy delivered to each of your “customer” (there doesn't have to be a contract in place) – which may take some significant effort to calculate.
So the return is probably not something that should be left until the last minute, especially as there will be fined for non-compliance.
More information on the regulations can be found at: gov.uk/heat-networks