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National Grid UK: What is it & How does it work?

National Grid UK: What is it & How does it work?

What is the National Grid and how does it work in the UK? Do I contact National Grid if I have a power cut or need a new gas or electricity connection? Find out all you need to know about National Grid and how its energy network operates today.

Who is my Distribution Network Operator (DNO)?

Electricity distribution cables

Ever wondered how your energy actually gets to your home? Read on to discover who your DNO is and to learn more about the role of the electricity and gas distribution networks in Great Britain.

DNO meaning: What is a DNO?

A DNO, or distribution network operator, is a company that owns and operates the network of towers and cables that carry low-voltage electricity to our homes and businesses from the electricity transmission network.

You’ll likely deal a lot more often with your electricity supplier (the company you pay your bills to) rather than your DNO. Your DNO is the company that you would contact for the following reasons:

  • To report a power cut
  • To connect a property to the electricity network
  • To move your electricity meter
  • To report the shroading of overhead lines
  • To request tree trimming around overhead lines
  • To request network plans showing underground electricity cables

Great Britain has 14 different DNO regions. However, they are managed by just six distribution companies, or DNOs.

  • Northern Powergrid is the DNO for the North East of England, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire. This includes large urban areas such as Leeds, Newcastle and Hull.
  • SP Energy Networks is the distribution company that operates the network in Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales and North Shropshire, as well as in Central and Southern Scotland.

Want to find out which energy company has the best deals?Get the best tariffs for your home by speaking to one of our trained energy experts - it's free! Call 020 3966 4692 or get a free callback now.

What is an IDNO?

An IDNO is an Independent Distribution Network Operator. These companies own and operate smaller distribution networks that are located within the areas that DNOs serve.

Like DNOs, IDNOs are licensed by energy regulator Ofgem. While IDNOs do not have all the same license conditions as the larger distribution network operators, Ofgem does cap all IDNO charges for customers at a level that is consistent with DNO charges.

The following list contains the current IDNOs in Great Britain:

  • Eclipse Power Limited
  • Energy Assets Networks Limited
  • Last Mile Electricity
  • ESP Electricity Limited
  • Fulcrum Electricity Assets Limited
  • Harlaxton Energy Networks Limited
  • Independent Power Networks Limited
  • Leep Electricity Network Limited
  • Murphy Power Distribution Limited
  • The Electricity Network Company Limited
  • UK Power Distribution Limited
  • Utility Assets Limited
  • Vattenfall Network Limited

DNO map

The DNO map (or electricity distribution map) below shows Great Britain’s 14 electricity network regions and their corresponding distribution network operators.

map of electricity distribution network

Who is my DNO?

Your distribution network operator, or DNO, is the company that is responsible for distributing electricity to your home or business. Unlike with electricity suppliers (the company you pay your power bill to), most people don’t know who their DNO is or what it does.

If you need to contact your DNO to report an emergency, you can always call 105 – no matter your region. This line is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

You can find your DNO in the table below by either locating your area or your distributor ID, which consists of the first two digits on the second row of your Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)*. The distributor ID will range from 10 to 23.

Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) per region
Area Distributor ID DNO Phone number
North Scotland 17 Scottish & Southern
Electricity Networks
0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland 18 SP Energy Networks 0800 092 9290
North East England 15 Northern Powergrid 0800 011 3332
North West England 16 Electricity North West 0800 195 4141
Yorkshire 23 Northern Powergrid 0800 011 3332
Merseyside, Cheshire,
North Wales & North Shropshire
13 SP Energy Networks 0800 001 5400
East Midlands, West Midlands,
South Wales & South West England
11, 14, 21, 22 Western Power Distribution 0800 096 3080
Eastern England 10 UK Power Networks 0800 029 4285
Central Southern England 20 Scottish & Southern
Electricity Networks
0800 048 3516
London & South East England 12, 19 UK Power Networks 0800 029 4285

What’s my Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)*? Your MPAN is a unique 21-digit reference code that identifies your electricity meter. It can be found on your bill and is often called your “supply number”. It will have the letter “S” on the left side and two rows of numbers (with eight digits on top and 13 digits on the bottom). If you don’t have a bill on hand, you can contact your electricity supplier to obtain the number.

Who is my electricity supplier?

lightning bolts

If you’re looking for your electricity supplier, it’s not one of the companies listed above – those are all DNOs. They deliver electricity to your home or business, but they don’t provide the actual electricity that you consume.

Your supplier is the company that you pay your electricity bill to. It’s also the company in charge of installing your electricity meter. However, your electricity supplier is not who you should contact if you need to move your electricity meter – that’s your DNO. This is because moving the meter also involves moving the electricity cables that are laid in the ground.

If you have a look at your electricity bill, you’ll see that part of what you pay to your electricity supplier (typically around 15%) is then paid to your DNO in exchange for running and maintaining the electricity network.

Need to find out the current supplier for your property?Give us a call and we can set up your gas and electricity tariff in a matter of minutes on 020 3966 4692 or get a free callback now.

Power cuts

No matter who your DNO is, in the event of an electrical emergency (such as a power cut), you can call 105 to report it. This line is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

In the event of a power cut, we recommend that you also take the following action (if possible):

  • See if other areas are affected. Either ask your neighbours or check the street lights.
  • Turn off electrical appliances that should not be left unattended. This includes irons and other devices that could cause harm if they restart when the power comes back on.
  • Check that the trip switch in your fuse box is turned on. If it is not in the on position, turn off all electrical appliances and attempt to reset the switch.
  • Don’t open your freezer. If unopened, some freezers can remain cold for up to 12 hours! In the case that your food spoils, you may be able to file a claim on your home insurance.
  • Check on your vulnerable neighbours. Make sure they are warm and have sufficient food supplies.

Gas Distribution Networks

Before gas reaches your home, it must travel through a medium or low pressure distribution network of pipelines, which are usually underground. There are eight gas distribution networks (GDNs) in Great Britain. These are managed by four different gas distribution companies.

In addition to managing the gas pipes, gas distribution companies also provide the gas emergency services for their geographical region.

Reasons you would need to contact the operator of your gas distribution network include the following:

  • To report a gas leak
  • If you smell gas
  • To get connected to the gas mains
  • To have your gas meter or pipes moved
  • To have your gas meter box installed/replaced (outside only!)

Gas distribution companies

The gas distribution companies that manage the network can also be called gas transporters or distribution network operators (DNOs); however, the term DNO is more commonly used to describe electricity distribution companies.

The table below breaks down Britain's four gas distribution companies and their corresponding regions and customer service phone numbers:

Gas Distribution Companies
Distributor Area Customer service phone number
Cadent Gas North West of England, West Midlands, East of England and North London 0800 389 8000
Northern Gas Networks North East of England, Northern Cumbria, and much of Yorkshire 0800 040 7766
SGN Scotland and Southern England 0800 912 1700
Wales & West Utilities Wales and the South West of England 0800 912 2999

If you smell gas or need to report a gas emergency, call 0800 111 999 immediately. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Gas distribution network map

The map below shows the gas distribution network a in Great Britain.

map of gas distribution network

What is an IGT?

gas flame

Independent Gas Transporters (IGTs) operate and maintain local gas transportation networks. They are connected to the Gas Distribution Network (GDN) via either a system entry point or another IGT.

An estimated one million consumers are connected to IGT networks across Great Britain, with new housing and commercial developments forming the largest share of the IGT market.

The following nine IGTs are currently in operation:

  • GTC Pipelines
  • Independent pipelines
  • ES Pipelines
  • Last Mile Gas
  • Fulcrum Pipelines
  • Indigo Pipelines Limited
  • Energy Assets Pipelines Limited
  • Murphy Gas Networks Limited
  • Leep Gas Networks Limited
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