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What is the electricity distribution network?

Have you ever wondered how electricity is transferred from power plants to homes and businesses across the UK? While you pay your business energy supplier every month for electricity, understanding the process behind it is crucial. This is where the electricity distribution network takes centre stage.

In this guide, we delve into the responsibility of the electricity distribution network and shed light on the role of distribution network operators.

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Electricity Distribution Network

What is an electricity distribution network?

The National Grid owns and operates an extensive high-voltage transmission grid known as the electricity distribution network, covering England and Wales.

This network interfaces with DNOs, which, in turn, distribute electricity to homes and businesses using privately owned power lines and underground cables.

What is a Distribution Network Operator (DNO)?

A DNO is the company that owns and operates the infrastructure connecting the energy supply to your business premises.

The DNO is available to assist with various services, including establishing a new business energy connection, addressing meter queries, and providing support in the event of a power outage.

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DNOs have a range of responsibilities, including managing sub-stations, transformers, and both underground and overhead cables, as well as facilitating the movement of the electricity supply to property meters and connecting premises to the electricity network.

It’s important to note, however, that DNOs are not accountable for aspects such as the National Grid, electricity generation and sales, and interconnectors.

Additionally, it’s crucial not to conflate the role of DNOs with that of business electricity suppliers, who specialize in providing business electricity tariffs, managing billing processes, and handling customer services for companies.

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Who operates the electricity distribution network?

Six distinct companies manage a total of eight distribution networks, powering both residential and commercial properties. The following is a list of the DNOs and a table containing information about each operator.

A list of electricity distribution network operators

Below is a compilation of the six distinct operators responsible for managing electricity distribution networks:

Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) per region

The following table provides information on regional DNOs, including key details. This resource enables you to identify your network operator and reach out to them for any inquiries or issues.


AreaDistributor IDDNOPhone number
North Scotland17Scottish & Southern
Electricity Networks
0800 048 3515
Central & Southern Scotland18SP Energy Networks0800 092 9290
North East England15Northern Powergrid0800 011 3332
North West England16Electricity North West0800 195 4141
Yorkshire23Northern Powergrid0800 011 3332
Merseyside, Cheshire,
North Wales & North Shropshire
13SP Energy Networks0800 001 5400
East Midlands, West Midlands,
South Wales & South West England
11, 14, 21, 22Western Power Distribution0800 096 3080
Eastern England10UK Power Networks0800 029 4285
Central Southern England20Scottish & Southern
Electricity Networks
0800 048 3516
London & South East England12, 19UK Power Networks0800 029 4285

The pricing structures of regional DNOs are contingent on the costs associated with operating and maintaining the infrastructure within their respective regions.

This variability in operational expenses for customers is a key factor contributing to the regional differences in business electricity rates.

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What is an IDNO?

An IDNO, or independent distribution network operator, is a company dedicated to establishing local electricity distribution networks within the larger framework of the DNO network. IDNOs take on the responsibilities of operating and maintaining these networks.

A notable distinction is that independent distribution network operators are not confined to specific regions; they have the flexibility to provide their services across England and Wales without geographical restrictions.

List of IDNOs in the UK:

Below is a compilation of registered independent DNOs in England and Wales:

  • 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
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How do I find out who my electricity distribution network operator is?

To initiate the search, utilize the Energy Networks Association search tool by entering your postcode.

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