Distribution Network Operators (DNOs)
Distribution Network Operators are key bodies and partners within the energy system. Our electricity network is made up of the transmission network (run by National Grid ESO), and the distribution network, which includes six distribution network operators (DNOs) across England. These operators also work with Ofgem, the independent regulator of Great Britain’s energy system.
The importance of knowing the DNO in your area
DNOs are the organisations that own and control the electricity distribution network, connecting generators, suppliers, energy users and consumers. They can provide a number of areas of support to you and your project, including the following:
- Grid connections
- Regional coordination - stakeholder panels, events
- Funding (small grants, seed and innovation, e.g. SIF)
- Resources & tools for accelerating projects (see below)
To develop energy generation projects successfully, many organisations will have to make applications and seek permission to connect to the electricity grid from their regional DNO. It is therefore key to know who the relevant DNO is for your area. Key resources and links below.
DSO transition - 2028 focus on innovation and efficiency
DNOs are also changing to become DSOs (more info below), which means their remit is expanding. This includes a greater focus on energy saving, efficiency and fuel poverty support projects as well as in innovation and new income opportunities, such as grid flexibility and demand management (DM) services.Key links and resources below.
Regional coordination and consultations
DNOs are also doing a lot to coordinate across regions, for example by hosting regular stakeholder panels, consultations, events and working groups particularly for community energy groups to share your needs and get connected with others across the area. If you hear of any consultations, please do let our policy and advocacy team know here.
DNOs can often be missed as sources of funding too - providing small grants and seed funding to begin your work and projects, as well as larger funds for innovation and mature organisations (for example, Strategic Innovation Funds).
Connecting with your DNO
To get in touch with your DNO about support available, the Energy Networks Association has a postcode and contact details finder for helping groups find the DNO in their area. For more information on regional coordination opportunities and funding, you can also sign up to your relevant DNO newsletters (website links below). CEE also collates a newsletter with updates on new funding - including from DNOs - on a bi-weekly basis. This national newsletter is only for CEE members. If you are interested in membership and joining our funding updates, please visit here for more information.
- Electricity North West
- Northern Powergrid
- Scottish & Southern Energy Networks
- UK Power Networks
- SP Energy Networks (not a member of CEE)
- National Grid Electricity Distribution (formerly Western Power Distribution, (not a member of CEE)
Further links and resources
- Connecting Community Energy: A Guide to Getting a Network Connection (2020 Updated Guide, Regen)
- Connecting to the Networks (ENA, 2022) - more information on connections
Innovation (and DSO transition to 2028)
- Creating Tomorrow’s Networks - Summary on Innovation - Energy Networks Association (ENA)
- The transition from DNO to DSO – what could it mean? (UPKN, 2018)
- Summary of 2023-2038 DNO Business Plans (CEE Policy Update, Feb 2022)
- Table of 2023-2038 DNO Business Plans (CEE Policy Update, Feb 2022)
Funding and Other Resources
- Smarter Networks Portal (ENA, 2022) - central repository for all previous and current Ofgem funded projects (inc. link to make proposal for SIF funding)
- Industry Hub - collection of databases, duties and other resources for those working in the energy industry.
- Current consultations - collated by CEE, updates on consultations issued by DNOs and other energy system stakeholders for urgent feedback.