electrical compliance

Is your business compliant with electrical safety and quality regulations?

11 January 2021

In the first of two blogs, Stewart Dawson, Managing Director of Vattenfall Network Solutions UK, explains the complexities of regulations such as ESQCR and how third-party energy management can help.

In an era when companies routinely outsource everything from legal services to IT, delegating responsibility for energy infrastructure management makes obvious sense when you consider the pressures of regulatory compliance.

In the UK, the practicalities – and potential pitfalls – of managing your own electricity infrastructure have become markedly more complex since the turn of the millennium. In particular, the implementation of the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR) alongside long-term existing legislation such as the Electricity at Work Act have raised the obligations placed on CEOs  - and the potential ramifications of failing to satisfy the various requirements.

At the core of the ESQCR is a desire to protect everyone, including the public, from danger related to energy infrastructure. Of particular note to power-heavy companies are the requirements related to electricity substations and their security. But the regulations also stipulate measures relating to electricity meters and underground and overhead cabling, among other areas, while there are also specifications for power quality and continuity of supply.

Given the scope and complexity of these regulations, it is perhaps not surprising to discover than an estimated 80% of private networks are thought to be non-compliant with ESQCR. But, this is potentially catastrophic news given that – along with the prospect of substantial fines – the EQSCR has provision for non-compliant systems to be immediately taken out of action or even removed altogether.

The consequences of suddenly having no workable energy infrastructure for a company would obviously be severe. Just imagine the impact that an instant halting of operations would have on a high-volume producer or manufacturer where output is everything. Not only would it mean failing to meet orders on time, it would have knock on effects for suppliers, distributors and would potentially cripple most businesses.

Delegating the management of all compliance issues is one the main reasons businesses are shifting to third-party energy management. Originally launched by Vattenfall in our home country of Sweden, Power as a Service (PaaS) – now introduced into the UK – provides a way to outsource the full responsibility of a business’s electrical needs. The service includes investing in electrical infrastructure, undertaking network upgrades, and perhaps most importantly, managing all compliance, regulatory and environmental issues in the relevant country.

In the second part of this blog, we’ll look in more detail at the Electricity at Work Act and related penalties, which have recently been increased to include higher fines and an increased chance of imprisonment, as well as how to avoid the pitfalls.