Your electricity network company
03457 643 643
Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Providing regular meter reads ensures that your account is up to date.
To help customers easily switch electricity suppliers, there is a need for regular meter readings to be obtained for all meters. This is standard procedure throughout Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
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 calling us on 03456 093030 or you can submit your reading online.
Your keypad meter will be read by one of our meter readers. At NIE, we work on behalf of 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.
NIE will pass your meter read to your electricity supplier who will issue your bill. If you have a pay-as-you-go or keypad meter the information will be used to keep your account up to date.
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 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Wayleaves are paid annually. Your first payment will be 13 months after you have signed the wayleave agreement and annually thereafter. For example, if you sign the wayleave in July 2013, you will receive your first payment in August 2014 and then every August.
If you already have wayleave agreements with NIE, this new agreement will be paid along with your existing payments.
Please note: As NIE pays by cheque, if your payment is less than £2 per year, we will wait until it has accumulated before paying.
As NIE pays by cheque, if your payment is less than £2 per year, we will wait until it has accumulated before paying.
No. At present all wayleave payments are paid by cheque.
No. NIE does not bill customers. Electricity suppliers bill for your energy usage. Our wayleave system is completely separate.
Yes, however, wayleaves are only payable to the owner of the land. If the landowner has changed you should advise us in writing.
If you received a cheque and remittance form, we suggest you return it writing on it the name of the new landowner. Alternatively, write us a letter or contact us online quoting your grantor number (top right hand corner of remittance form), address and the name of the new landowner.
Contact us in writing:
NIE wayleave payments
120 Malone Road
Firstly you should check if the equipment only serves your property. We only make payments on equipment which is transporting power to at least one other property. Please contact our wayleave payments team for more information.
No. All cheques have to be crossed for security reasons.
No. We suggest that you nominate someone with a bank account to accept the payment on your behalf.
Wayleaves are only paid by cheque. If you do not have a bank account, we suggest you nominate someone with a bank account to accept the payment on your behalf.
Your grantor number consists of 6 numbers preceeded by a letter.
You will find this on the top right hand side of your payment advice slip.
Please have this number to hand if you contact us to discuss anything to do with your agreement.
Please notify NIE wayleave payments in writing clearly stating the name of the new owner e.g. "[insert name] is the new owner of [insert address].
Please date and sign your notification letter and send to NIE wayleave payments, 120 Malone Road, Belfast, BT9 5HT.
The legislation behind the guaranteed standards recognises exceptional events and allows NIE to apply an exemption, which means that no guaranteed standard payments would be due.
NIE will apply an exemption on the basis of severe weather where the number of faults affecting the high voltage network exceeds 13 times the normal operations.
Other instances when an exemption may apply include when we are unable to access a property or where the customers agrees to the electricity not being restored within the given timescales.
Equivalent qualifications to a GCSE pass are as follows:
City & Guilds
Please note, only those candidates who meet the above criteria will be progressed to the next stage of the selection process.
We have depots across Northern Ireland, our training schools are currently in Ballymena, Campsie (Londonderry) and Craigavon. Our Auto CAD apprentices will be based mainly in Greater Belfast.
This will be reviewed if you are successful. There are certain modules which you may be required to complete as the Btec is bespoke to NIE.
One long day per week, usually a Wednesday.
They will be held across various sites, including Ballymena, Craigavon and Campsie. Each stage will be help in a different site, which will be clearly stipulated on your correspondence.
No, we only accept online applications.
When we close the vacancy we hope to respond to all applicants within 2 weeks.
This will be reviewed on an individual basis.
Our apprentices will be working across Northern Ireland so it would be essential for them to learn when they are legally able to do so.
You have to be at least 16 years old on starting date
No there is no age limit. As long as you are over the age of 16 at the start date then you can apply
We can review your date based on your circumstances.
Yes, we can accommodate this and provide help where applicable, please state this clearly on your form to allow us to make adjustments.
To be fair to all applicants we can’t give too much away about the practical test but you will get a full briefing about what the test will entail when you arrive.
Shortlisting will be determined through the following stages:
The voltages in the Northern Ireland electricity network include 230V, 400V, 11kV, 33kV, 110kV and 275kV.
Renewable energy is energy generated from natural sources like the sun, wind or flowing water and is naturally replenished as it is used. Micro renewable generation is classed as 3.68kW or less single phase or up to 11.04kW three phase.
Small scale renewable generation is classed as greater than 3.68kW and up to 20kW single phase and greater than 11.04kW and up to 2MW three phase. Typically the majority of applications are up to 50kW for Solar PV, up to 250kW for wind generation and up to 500kW for anaerobic digestion due to Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) banding levels [link opens in a new window].
Large scale generation is generally classed as generation greater than 2MW.
It is possible to connect up to 20kW maximum to a single phase supply. Above this capacity a three phase supply is required.
The 11kV network is part of NIE’s distribution network. It covers around 21,000km (overhead) and represents the majority of electricity network you will see in rural locations.
The majority of small scale generators will connect to the 11kV network. Around 70% of this type of network is single phase.
In general terms, the amount of electricity that can be exported is determined by the electricity infrastructure in your area, the distance the generating site is from the NIE primary substation and the amount of generation already committed to the circuit.
There are three types of application:
Find out what type of application applies to your generator.
For a microgenerator the limits are 3.68kW single phase and 11.04kW three phase. The equipment must comply with the requirements of the G83 recommendations. If your generation is greater than these limits please use the G59 application process.
Find out which application applies to your generator.
As of end December 2013, around 531MW of Large Scale Generation and 54MW of small scale generation had already been connected. It is expected that around 1600MW is required to meet DETI’s 40% renewables targets by 2020 so this equates to around 15%.
Once NIE receives an application for a renewable connection, a connection offer is issued within 90 days, provided all the necessary information has been received. The applicant has a further 90 days to accept the connection offer.
NIE will offer a feasibility study as an alternative to the full application process. Applicants may consider undertaking a feasibility study prior to submitting an application to the planning department for the renewable site.
Your application must contain the following documents:
Please note that if you have an inverter connected generator then you will also need to include a copy of the harmonics report up to the 50th harmonic. Detailed requirements will be set out in your application form.
If you are at an early stage of purchasing a site or planning a development, we can provide you with an estimate of likely connection costs through a feasibility study. You should be aware that a feasibility study does not reserve network capacity for a particular project, and NIE cannot guarantee that a connection will be available when making a formal application for connection.
If you have finalised your requirements, obtained DOE Planning Approval and are ready to enter into a contract with us to provide your connection, we can give you a formal quotation. Click here to register for an Generation Connection application pack.
Initially you will need to pay the cost for your connection application fee only. NIE will then send you out a quote for the cost of your connection. If you accept the quote (within 90 days) then a 20% deposit must be paid immediately for NIE to continue to process your application. The final balance will be required before construction commences.
A number of locations are affected by network saturation across Northern Ireland. The extent of the impact depends on the number of existing generators connected and the remaining capacity of the network at that location. NIE's heat map gives indicative information on these problem areas.
NIE continues to seek approvals where appropriate for installation of equipment to facilitate reverse power at network substations which are already heavily loaded with generation. These installations will provide further limited capacity for generation in these areas.
Some areas require substantial network reinforcement to facilitate additional generation. Options for development of these projects are being considered by the relevant authorities.
NIE is also currently exploring new Active Network Management solutions and how these could potentially increase the ability to connect to the network and continues to update stakeholders on progress.
Provided all the information received is in order, we will register your application and will send a letter advising you of your unique job reference number. We will place your application in our generation queue where we assess each application in turn to determine the extent of work required to facilitate your connection.
Once the network analysis is complete, we will contact the nominated person specified in your application to arrange a site visit and subsequently issue your connection offer.
We are currently experiencing a high volume of applications for connection of generation. NIE will process all applications and provide a quote, which will outline the work required to connect you, within 90 days of receiving your application and all supporting documentation.
The cost will reflect the work we have to carry out to meet your requirements. We have to take a number of factors into account including the generation export capacity requested, the position of the generator on our network and whether or not we have to reinforce our network to provide your connection.
All works and costs are specific to your site requirements. Our charging methodology will give details of how this will affect your application.
If you don't accept our quotation within the 90 day acceptance period, the quotation is no longer valid and will drop out of the generation connection queue. The 90 day acceptance period is strictly enforced to ensure fairness to all applicants.
If you don't accept our quotation and need to apply again, the connection costs may change. Costs may have altered due to increases in material and labour costs since your original application or as a result of other connections or offers that may have been made onto our network during this time, there may no longer be sufficient capacity available to supply your development from our existing network.
This could have a significant effect on the scope and cost of the works required to connect your development. You should be aware of this potential risk when timing your application and quote acceptance.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is a system which acquires data from your generator. This provides information back to NIE on the operation and output of the generator and allows NIE to issue commands to the generator when necessary.
SCADA facilities are mandatory on all generation connections above 200kW in capacity however they may also be required for connections between 100-200kW in certain circumstances.
Most small scale generation will require a dedicated transformer. The size of transformer needed is dependent on the capacity (kW) and type of the generator to be installed. Typically:
We cannot provide more than one point of supply onto any site due to safety concerns. Each application will be reviewed on a site specific basis.
We will always endeavour to achieve ‘wayleave’ permission from third party land owners in the first instance. On occasions, we do encounter landowners who do not permit the installation of additional equipment on their land in which case NIE may propose an alternative route, however this can often result in additional charges being incurred.
No, NIE is obliged to ensure fairness to all applicants. We provide connection offers on a 'first come, first served' basis and operate a strict queuing process to achieve this.
No, we can only permit a job to join the generation queue once you have submitted all the information detailed in our application pack which must include a copy of your official planning permission certificate. Your application will not be processed until this is received.
Planning permission is a pre-requisite to enter into the generation application process. The only exception to this is when the installation is compliant with permitted development rules and written confirmation of this is supplied.
A stage 1 application is for single G83 installations. The vast majority of microgeneration is installed at single sites and the installer should complete a G83 stage 1 commissioning pack.
A stage 2 application is for multiple installations at a domestic or business premises in close proximity. Installers should complete a G83 stage 2 application pack and obtain permission from NIE before connecting.
Using the “Fit and Inform” principles of Engineering Recommendation G83/1, the installer should fit and commission the generator and register the connection online to inform NIE that this has been done.
The installer should also submit their application pack and relevant documentation within 30 days for approval. NIE will check this information and will arrange for the installation of an import/export electricity meter.
Close geographic region/area is one that meets at least one of the following criteria;
The post codes of any of the premises where a SSEG installation is planned by the same organisation are the same when the last two letters are ignored…e.g. BT29 2xx where xx could be any pair of letters or where x could be any letter.
The premises where a SSEG installation is planned by the same organisation are within 500m of each other.
As is the case at present, all proposed generation connections, which have an installed capacity above the G83 limit, must apply for a Connection Offer under the more complex G59 connection application process. The G59 application and quotation process includes a full technical assessment and site visit to determine the connection arrangement and any possible impact the proposed generation may have on the electricity network. Any network upgrade work required as a result of the generation installation would be chargeable to the applicant and will be detailed in NIE’s Connection Offer. Details of the G59 Connection process can be found here.
The 16 amps per phase threshold equates to 3.68kW per phase. The new G83 limit will be based on the certified continuous steady state operating rating of the inverter, subject to a maximum installed generation capacity of 4kW single phase and 12kW three phase. For example, a standard 3.98kWp solar PV installation using a certified 3.68kW rated inverter would be acceptable.
NIE is not proposing any change at this time, but is currently carrying out a gap analysis between G83/1 and G83/2.
NIE will now write to all affected customers, i.e. those who have received or were about to receive a conditional offer, to inform them that their offer will either be withdrawn or will not be issued. Options will be detailed in this letter and the customer must then advise NIE how they wish to proceed.
Where conditional offers have been withdrawn by NIE and the applicant wants to keep their application live, NIE will retain the position of the relevant applicants in the “connection queue”. When the review of the Statement of Charges is complete, including any alternative connection arrangement, the applicant will not have to re-apply for a connection offer and one will be issued automatically on the basis of the initial application.
Where offers have yet to be made in locations where there is a lack of 33,000 volt capacity, NIE will write to applicants advising it is unable to issue a connection offer and will detail the options available.
We will provide details of the cancellation process in your letter. If you cancel the connection application NIE will make a refund. The amount refunded will depend on the stage of the application in the process.