National Grid completes stopgap process to ease grid connection queue

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has provided revised connection offers to all eligible customers under its temporary two-step process designed to ease the logjam of projects in the transmission queue.

National Grid completes stopgap process to ease grid connection queue

More than 500 applications have gone through the temporary process, representing 150GW of capacity and a third of the total transmission pipeline in Great Britain.

The ESO was due to complete this piece of work by 1 March for all applications submitted before 27 November 2023. However, it was granted an additional three months by Ofgem after delays resulting from a surge in connections applications.

The interim process was introduced at the end of February 2023, while a wider system review was carried out for all contracted offers with a connection date from 2026 onwards.

It has been applied to all customers joining the connections queue between its implementation and 1 March this year.

An ESO spokesperson told edie’s suster title Utility Week: “The ESO has worked in close partnership with National Grid Electricity Transmission to issue all second step offers to customers, delivering on the commitment to achieve this by the end of May.

“The GB connections queue has been growing at unprecedented pace. On current trajectories, the queue across transmission and distribution could reach over four times the volume required to reach net zero by the end of this year.

“The two-step process was one of many initiatives introduced to help us manage the queue, improve connections dates through more realistic assessment and modelling, and create space to transition towards wider connections reform.”

Under the two-step process, customers received an interim offer within three months of applying to join the queue. The offer comprised a position in the connections queue, a point of connection and a year by which they would be connected at the latest.

The offers did not contain details of the works that would be required to facilitate their connection and how much they would cost. Accordingly, customers were not required to provide securities to cover the cost of these works.

In step two, customers received all the details they would normally receive as part of a connections offer. At this point, they were able to leave the queue at no cost, but the became liable to pay securities.

When granting the deadline extension for secondary offers, Ofgem said the process is now expected to bring little or no improvement in connection dates for the majority of customers.

In April, the ESO published its proposed TMO4+ model for enduring connections reform which would see significant action across the whole of the current queue, enabling earlier connection dates for viable projects which meet their milestones.

These ‘first ready, first connected’ proposals have been granted urgency by Ofgem through the code modification process, which is currently underway, with the aspiration that these will go live at the start of next year if approved by the regulator.

Ofgem agreed to fast-track its decision-making process after the ESO warned that the connections queue could exceed 1,000GW if reforms were not urgently enacted.

Rob Horgan for Utility Week 

This article originally appeared on edie’s sister title Utility Week

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