Building Network Operators 

A Building Network Operator (BNO) is the organisation that owns or operates the electricity distribution network within a multiple occupancy building between the intake position and the customer’s installation. The BNO may be the DNO (District Network Operator), another licensed distributor or a third party exempt from an electricity distribution licence. A BNO does not require a distribution license if the distribution is less than 2.5MW or generation less than 10MW. The BNO standard needs to be adhered to in order for the local electrical DNO to connect and maintain supplies to the building.

You may be a BNO if you are any of the following:

  • Commercial Landlord
  • Facilities Management Company
  • Property Developer
  • House Builder
  • Property Manager
  • Electrical Contractor

The Electricity and Gas Internal Markets Regulations (2011) provided direct to market supply metering for embedded tenants of a building. Therefore the building network operator could be the building owner or a body appointed by the building owner to run the electricity services within a building. There are three parties involved in any BNO arrangement with each owner being responsible for their network equipment:

  • DNO – For a new building the DNO responsibility ends at the customer side of the intake be it a cut out supply, the feeder way on an LV board or the cable end box of an HV or EHV supply
  • BNO – Owns everything beyond the DNO point of demarcation EXCEPT any meters embedded within the BNO network or attached to DNO equipment, these act as islands of ownership within each network. The BNO has the additional responsibility of the building and the infrastructure of the building.
  • Electricity Supplier – Owns the meters embedded within the BNO Network

The current national position provides a common framework for the responsibilities and liabilities of each party involved in a multi-occupied building;

  • allowing direct access to metering for customers,
  • providing clarity on how the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 (ESQCR) apply to all network operators between distribution and supply points; and
  • provides a basis for common working across the UK.

Primarily, the framework describes two states of building network operator:

  • a licensed network operator and
  • a licence exempt network operator.

A building network operator is either one or the other, the framework provides no exceptions. The Electricity Act 1989 allows for electricity companies that meet certain criteria to be exempt from having a distribution licence, whilst the Electricity (Class Exemptions from the Requirement for a License) Order (2001) provided limits on who can qualify to be a licensed exempt distribution network operator.

The owning party must maintain the building in accordance with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations, though the design regulations governing each party differ. A licensed party is bound by the national network operator’s approvals for cable selection, network design etc. whilst the unlicensed party within a building is only constrained by the IET wiring regulations BS 7671 and so can provide a cost effective solution more appropriate to the building.


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