Your electricity network company
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Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs):
The domestic electricity market in Northern Ireland is changing to give all electricity customers the option to change suppliers. Until May of next year the number of keypad customers who can switch from one supplier to another will be restricted. After that there will be no limit.
At NIE, we need to start reading keypad meters now so that we have sufficient time to gather all the information required from the meters before May of next year.
To facilitate competition, there is an obligation for regular meter readings to be obtained for all meters. This is standard procedure throughout Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland where electricity markets have been open to competition for longer.
Normally meter reading is carried out on a quarterly cycle, approximately every 13 weeks:
- Quarter 1 is January to March
- Quarter 2 is April to June
- Quarter 3 is July to September
- Quarter 4 is October to December
If your electricity meter is inside your property or behind closed gates, our meter reader will contact you to ask for access. The meter reader will only need access to your meter for a couple of minutes to take the reading.
Yes, you can provide your own meter reading by phone or you can submit your reading online.
Your keypad meter will be read by one of our meter readers. We work for all electricity suppliers.
No. Due to the volume of home visits that NIE meter readers carry out every day, it is impossible to provide specific appointments. If you are not at home when the meter reader calls, they will leave a card advising you if they will be back in the area. Alternatively you can submit your own reading online or by phone.
If you have a keypad meter installed in the property, then yes, you will need to have your meter read or provide the meter reading.
The information will be used by suppliers and NIE to make it possible for keypad customers to switch supplier.
In order for the market systems and processes to work effectively, all meter readings must be taken on the same basis. If a customer does want to switch in the future they will be able to and if a new owner/tenant moves into the premises they too will be able to switch as the meter reading history will be available.
No. This cost will be rolled into the network charges.
You will receive the amount of electricity you have paid for and the reading will have no effect on you the customer.
Yes, you will still be a pay-as-you-go customer. You will continue to pay for electricity as you use it and there will be no bill issued following your meter reading visit.
If you are not happy with our decision you can ask for your complaint to be looked at again by our Managing Director. Please write to:
NIE Managing Director
Northern Ireland Electricity Limited.
120 Malone Road
Belfast, BT9 5HT
We will reply to all complaints received within 10 working days.
If you are unable to have your complaint resolved to your satisfaction, or if at any time you are unhappy with our response, The Consumer Council, an independent body, may be able to help. Please contact 0800 121 6022 / email@example.com
Alternatively you can write to:
The Consumer Council
116 Holywood Road
Belfast, BT4 1NY
An electricity supplier buys energy and sells it to customers. It is the company that issues your electricity bill and deals with any queries you have about your bill. Suppliers need a licence from the Utility Regulator to supply electricity to customers in Northern Ireland. They buy energy from the all island electricity market (also known as the Single Electricity Market or SEM) and pay Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) 'use of system' charges to transport it over the electricity network to your home.
There are several suppliers of electricity in Northern Ireland, including:
This list of suppliers may change. Please visit the Utility Regulator and the Consumer Council websites for more information [links open in a new window].
There are several suppliers of electricity in Northern Ireland, including:
This list of suppliers may change. For more information please visit the Utility Regulator and the Consumer Council websites [links open in a new window].
A meter point reference number (or MPRN) is a unique 11 digit number to identify your address that is used by suppliers to check the incoming supply details for individual premises.
You will find your MPRN number on the card left by your meter reader or it may be found on the bill from your electricity supplier.
You need this number if you wish to change supplier or are getting a first time electricity connection to new premises. The MPRN is unique to individual premises and will never change. The first two digits are always 81.
The Maximum Import Capacity (MIC) is the maximum amount of electricity that you will use in any half hour, in any day. This figure helps NIE to design a new electricity connection to meet your needs.
Our cable jointers install, connect and repair high and low voltage underground power cables. The design and construction of these cables is specialised and to work on them you will require a higher skill level than is needed for cables in the general electrical contracting industries.
This is a specialist role where employees are responsible for the construction, maintenance and refurbishment of the distribution and transmission overhead line network, including tree cutting. Our overhead lines technicians work at various locations across Northern Ireland.
Our tree cutters are responsible for the vegetation and tree management programme on our 32,000 kilometres of overhead line network. This is specialised utility arboricultural work close to overhead lines and is carried out right across Northern Ireland. This is a really important role as unmanaged trees near overhead lines can cause interruptions to supply and could also result in potentially hazardous situations to the public and our employees.
Our plant maintenance electricians are responsible for the installation and maintenance of high voltage substations, transformers, switch gear and protection systems that facilitate the delivery of power between our transmission and distribution networks and the customer.
A meter reader reads electricity meters in all homes and businesses throughout Northern Ireland. These readings are then forwarded to electricity suppliers. The role involves interaction with the public, flexible, target driven work and travel.
Metering electricians are responsible for the inspection, installation, and maintenance and testing of domestic, small commercial metering and low voltage main metering. They are also responsible for working with high voltage main metering and are required to do other metering related tasks as and when required.
Our project engineers are responsible for the exceptional delivery of our projects and programmes of work. They design substations, overhead lines, underground cable systems from 230 volts up to 275,000 volts. They guarantee projects are carried out to the highest standards of safety and quality, in a timely fashion and importantly within budget. Projects within NIE require multi-disciplinary roles so it is important for our project engineers to coordinate and manage this.
Our technical engineers are responsible for commissioning, maintaining and carrying out fault investigation and analysis on the protective devices and systems, which safeguard the high voltage electricity network.
Design engineers are responsible for assisting in the delivery of the design, costing and procurement of all plant associated with substation projects. This role also includes the associated design for protection and control.
Planning engineers are concerned with the future network. They consider the various uses of the network, meeting customer demands at all times to the arranged standards, facilitating generation access and making energy markets work efficiently. They are also responsible for carrying out network studies, costing developments and probabilistic analysis of flows and failure rates to decide the economic level of network development or asset replacement.
The minimum distance NIE can leave between trees and the lines to ensure public safety depends on the voltage of the line, but is a minimum of 5 metres (16ft) to each side of distribution lines (11,000 and 33,000 volt lines). This is approximately the same as the length of an average saloon type car. As the voltages increase for transmission lines, these minimum distances increase. For diagrams and further details on clearances to different voltages, see the safety clearance page.
Prior to any cutting a tree patroller will visit site and survey the overhead line identifying any vegetation that infringes, or has the potential to infringe, the required safety distances. The tree patroller will then make contact with the relevant landowner and explain what needs cut. An agreement on how any timber or branches should be disposed of will be made at this stage.
NIE has both a legal and moral obligation to remove safety hazards from our overhead network. This includes any trees, hedges or other vegetation which could be climbed or could support a ladder, and are within the relevant safety distance.
NIE understand the concerns of our customers in relation to their property. NIE always strive to ensure that the most appropriate staff, vehicles and machinery are sent to each work site, and that the site is left in the manner requested by the customer. The cutting may be carried out by trained tree climbers, or by flail depending on the site conditions and extent of the cutting, and we will agree with the customer on the method of disposal for any timber or branches.
A wayleave agreement is a contractual licence which allows NIE to install, access, repair and maintain its electricity equipment on privately owned land. It is intended to reflect the impact of electricity equipment on land use.
An agreement is required when at least one other party takes their electricity supply from the equipment on your land. It is not required when the installed equipment is only intended to supply the land owner's property.
To help explain wayleave agreements, NIE has developed an NIE wayleave payments information pack [481kb PDF] which describes the payment process and how to identify NIE equipment on your land.
Northern Ireland Electricity Limited © 2013