Connecting gas, more quickly and cheaply
We’re working to cut the time and cost it takes to connect new sources of gas to our network. Project CLoCC will give customers a better service, project manager Anne-Marie Liszczyk explains, and we hope to improve our processes for existing gas customers also.
Biogas, compressed natural gas and shale gas can complement the UK’s conventional supply. But it currently takes around three years and £2m to connect gas sources to the National Transmission System. For projects on a much smaller scale and a shorter timeframe than conventional connections, that’s too long, and too expensive. So we’re working to halve the cost, and cut the process to under one year.
To achieve that, we started Project CLoCC (Customer Low Cost Connections) in early 2016 after winning £4.8m of funding from Ofgem, our UK regulator.
A better process, from start to finish
The three-year initiative is looking at the gas connections process from top to bottom. To make it more attractive to our customers, we’re focusing on three areas: commercial contracts and governance, how we connect the pipework, and what kind of experience our customers get. We want to make it possible for the UK to draw on a diverse mix of energy to meet carbon targets. For instance, making compressed natural gas more available from the network makes it easier to convert heavy goods vehicles from diesel.
Saving money, saving time
To cut costs, we’re investigating new charging arrangements, like customers being able to lease the equipment they need to connect to the network. And we’re re-examining the upfront cost to apply for new connections.
Other ways of saving time and money include using standardised, off-the-shelf designs to connect to the network, which are quicker and cheaper to make. Using renewable power kiosks will avoid the cost of permanent power supplies on site. We’re also seeing whether multiple customers can use one connection, as well as looking into a new ‘express’ category in order for smaller gas flow customers to secure the capacity they need on the network.
And we’re exploring how to make connections stay inside existing site boundaries. That could save time applying for planning permission.
A better experience for customers
To make the experience easier for customers, we want to replace the current paper-based process with a website for them to track their connections from start to finish. It will also show customers different options for connecting, including estimated costs, based on information they give about their site and the gas.
By improving the whole process, we can offer a better service for all gas connections, not just unconventional ones.