Ants

Extortionate Quote from DNO to lay underground cables, can anybody advise.

Recommended Posts

After reading a thread from May 17 about underground cable laying,   I have done endless research ( it has been a steep learning curve) in order to prepare a case to convince the SSE to contribute to the cost.   I keep coming up against brick wall after brick wall and I was wondering if anybody could advise me. 

 

I have had conversations with ICPs who advised me that all the work quoted was non-contestable other than the excavation and reinstatement to facilitate diversions of assets. Although they have been helpful they will not give me any insider information on how to challenge the DNO. 

 

DNO's case:

 

The property owner has requested the work.  All the existing equipment is in good condition, plus no cables hanging below the require height specs, so they will not consider a case that it is to their advantage to upgrade by replacing them with under ground cables.   

 

Wayleaves - we have these. We cannot use 'cancelling' wayleaves as part of the case as they will just get a court order and apply for Necessary Wayleaves.  We will lose and spend lots of money on solicitors and a wasted year.  Found this out after talking with specialist lawyers.

 

Our case:  

 

Overhanging trees are a threat.  Storm Ciara did blow down one tree but it missed the electricity cables and brought down the telephone wires.  But it shows the potential for this to happen to their equipment.   We have photos of this incident as proof of this threat.  The tree was not on our property and not our responsibility.  Will they just insist that Highways trim the trees or is this a viable point to put forward?

 

We are preparing to install a Biomass heating system on our land,  to include the building to house the boiler and space to hold the wood chips.  The building planners have reviewed the HV lines height from the building  which meet the HSE requirements BUT  the lorry delivering the wood chip will pose a danger to the HV lines if it comes of the track (which is highly possible ) and therefore will not pass the HSE requirements.   Will they force us to move the building so it does meet the HSE requirements or can we refuse to move the building as it is our land and insist that they move their cables and therefore they will have to take the cost of putting the cables underground in that particular area?

 

There has been no site visit yet and the DNO has quoted it blind.  Does a site visit make a difference to the quote?  Any chance that they will reduce it after that?  

 

Has anybody got any thoughts or ideas that might help or answer any of my questions?  

 

Thanks.  

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m in a right mood, so I’m going to play devils advocate here. 

Nothing directed at you personally as I have no idea who you are. 

 

If a tree blows down and and hits the wires, then surely the tree owner should have taken better care of their trees, it is very rare for good trees to blow over, in over 30 years of being on emergency call out for a number of London boroughs, I can say that most times you look at a fallen tree it has a defect. 

 

So should the dno put all their lines undergound so to avoid land owners dodgy trees. 

 

 

Point 2, if the truck delivering your chip falls off the track the surely the track was inadequate to hold that vehicle. 

Who owns the track, why would a driver go down a track he believes is not fit for purpose. 

You say it is highly possible, then that is negligent on your part to expect a driver to use it, if you put the building there then you need to supply adequate access for the chip to be unloaded in a safe manner. 

 

If these lines where in place when you purchased the land then ho hum. 

 

A friend of of mine has paid £60,000 to get power to his plot recently, he knew it would be a pain and so bargained accordingly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Ants said:

the lorry delivering the wood chip will pose a danger to the HV lines if it comes of the track (which is highly possible ) and therefore will not pass the HSE requirements. 

 

How high are the lines and what voltage? I thought minimum cable heights took into account vehicles passing underneath?

 

I'm no expert but had a look at the legislation here...

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2665/schedule/2/made

33659757_cableheights.jpg.a1dbc3f20d3a309ebf95e6fbfb59137a.jpg

 

It appears the min heights over roads and other locations are the same except for <33,000V cables.  So I'm guessing "your" cable is less than 33,000V?

 

Perhaps try safely measuring the exact height of the cables. eg using trigonometry not a long pole!  If they are over 5.8m high you might not need to do anything? 

 

If they are lower how much lower? If they are below 5.2m could you argue they don't meet legislation and need to be raised?

 

How about putting up barriers to prevent the lorry coming off the track or excavating the land 0.6m to artificially raise the height of the cable? How about barriers at the start and end of the track to limit vehicle height?

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Temp

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a lot of dealings with SP energy myself when they quoted us an extortionate amount for our new connection. In the end it was a pole on our land which took the dispute in a different direction, They had no way leave for it being there and when I threatened to serve them notice to remove it they suddenly reduced their quote to under a fifth of what they originally quoted so I wouldn’t rule out serving them notice, I think others on here have done so. As for the trees , where we are there is  a tree surgeon sent round every year by SP energy to check any trees encroaching on their wires and they remedy this, we had one that they wanted to lop before we started our build and I asked them to take it down altogether (which they did foc ) so I can’t see this as something they would take into consideration. I can’t really advise any further sorry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You say there is a wayleave in place, did you grant this to the DNO when you bought the property or when the equipment was installed if you already owned it?  Having they been paying you?  Even if the answer to the first question is "no" meaning the wayleave probably fell away when you bought the property, if the answer to the second question is "yes" there may well be an implied wayleave.

 

Assuming there is a wayleave I would suggest looking at this from the DNO's perspective.  You have legal permission to have your equipment on a piece of land.  There is nothing wrong with your equipment, it is performing perfectly well and it is structurally sound.  The landowner has now decided for their own reasons that they want the cable put underground.  They want you to pay the cost of this.  Does that sound reasonable?

 

In terms of the trees, I believe the same law that gives the DNO the power to ask for the granting of a Necessary Wayleave also gives them the ability to gain access to land to cut back trees threatening their equipment.

 

You have not mentioned what the cost is.  I have a vague recollection that the DNO has to publish a standard set of chatges for this type of work, have you checked they are abiding by their own charging schedule?

 

As it happens I am also getting a DNO to underground a cable at their cost, but in that case they never had a wayleave, so basically installed the equipment on somebody else's land without anyones permission.  The Necessary Wayleave process is very lengthy, as I am finding, but in your case it sounds like you would need to terminate the wayleave first.

Edited by Randomiser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Temp said:

 

How high are the lines and what voltage? I thought minimum cable heights took into account vehicles passing underneath?

 

I'm no expert but had a look at the legislation here...

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2665/schedule/2/made

33659757_cableheights.jpg.a1dbc3f20d3a309ebf95e6fbfb59137a.jpg

 

It appears the min heights over roads and other locations are the same except for <33,000V cables.  So I'm guessing "your" cable is less than 33,000V?

 

Perhaps try safely measuring the exact height of the cables. eg using trigonometry not a long pole!  If they are over 5.8m high you might not need to do anything? 

 

If they are lower how much lower? If they are below 5.2m could you argue they don't meet legislation and need to be raised?

 

How about putting up barriers to prevent the lorry coming off the track or excavating the land 0.6m to artificially raise the height of the cable? How about barriers at the start and end of the track to limit vehicle height?

 

 

 

 

 

Presumably the poles they attach the cables to are in excess of the minimum required height.  If that is right I guess the only way they will below the required height is due to excessive sagging or topology, i.e. the two poles the cable runs between being in dips with the land in between being higher.  Does that make sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you post the quote and the design you may get some other suggestions reducing the cost.  I think the overhead heights / wayleave / tree issues may be wishful thinking on your part and will not help your case.

 

My son is electrical engineer / designer and he has loads of issues with DNOs where incorrect assumptions are made that can have serious implications as the project progresses, so get the homework done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Ants said:

Wayleaves - we have these. We cannot use 'cancelling' wayleaves as part of the case as they will just get a court order and apply for Necessary Wayleaves.  We will lose and spend lots of money on solicitors and a wasted year.  Found this out after talking with specialist lawyers.

We had a low voltage cable, for which we had a wayleave agreement, oversailing our garden. We wanted to build a replacement house and the cable would have hit the roof of the new build. We told the DNO our plans, removed the wayleave agreement in writing and asked them to route it underground. They refused on cost grounds, but agreed to reroute it above ground free of charge. Good compromise. It did all take about a year in all though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Temp said:

 

How high are the lines and what voltage? I thought minimum cable heights took into account vehicles passing underneath?

 

I'm no expert but had a look at the legislation here...

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/2665/schedule/2/made

 

It appears the min heights over roads and other locations are the same except for <33,000V cables.  So I'm guessing "your" cable is less than 33,000 KV?

 

Perhaps try safely measuring the exact height of the cables. eg using trigonometry not a long pole!  If they are over 5.8m high you might not need to do anything? 

 

If they are lower how much lower? If they are below 5.2m could you argue they don't meet legislation and need to be raised?

 

How about putting up barriers to prevent the lorry coming off the track or excavating the land 0.6m to artificially raise the height of the cable?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all these replies.  I think I will try and get a breakdown of the costs and see if I can negotiate from there and follow up on standard of set charges.

 

Here is the job that they are doing

 

The Non-Contestable work quoted just shy of 60K( we have already reduced the cost by 30K by taking on the contestable work of trenching)

 

supply and install 1 x 200kVA padmounted substation

supply and install 190m of 150mm2 XLPE

erect 1 x HV terminal pole

dismantle 3 x HV section pole, 1 x HV terminal pole, and 3 x spans of HV overhead line.

supply and install 30m 50mm2 ABC overhead line

supply and install 135m of 185mm2 wavecon cable

erect 2 x LV terminal pole

dismantle 2 x LV section poles and 3 x spans of LV overhead line

arrange traffic management.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The high proportion of non-contestable work is because this is an HV supply.  HV supplies cost a heck of a lot more to move/change than LV supplies.  In general, DNOs are reluctant to take HV supplies underground unless they really have to, even though they may need less maintenance, as they much prefer to be able to have easy access to cables.  As the work also includes relocating a sub-station (I'm guessing that this is presently a pole-mounted transformer, from the reference to a terminal pole) then it doesn't look to be a bad price. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Jeremy Harris.  That is good to know. 

 

Do you know if the DNOs will consider options to reduce costs by considering alternative routes for the underground cables? 

 

Also are they likely to say that as the New Building is threatening the overhead HV lines to move the building or can you refuse to move the building and then they have to either move their lines or contribute to the cost of putting them underground?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Ants said:

Thank you Jeremy Harris.  That is good to know. 

 

Do you know if the DNOs will consider options to reduce costs by considering alternative routes for the underground cables? 

 

Also are they likely to say that as the New Building is threatening the overhead HV lines to move the building or can you refuse to move the building and then they have to either move their lines or contribute to the cost of putting them underground?

 

 

 

The DNO will almost certainly want to route the HV cables along the safest and most direct route.  They may have good safety reasons for not wanting to put an 11 kV underground cable along a particular route, best to try and talk with them to understand their reasons for choosing the route.

 

The issue with any new building is that it's the erection of the building that is potentially creating a problem for the DNO, so their view will be that the costs for making the installation safe fall to the person creating their problem, which is the person erecting the new building.   They're looking at this from the view that they have the right to run overhead cables along the present route, and they are content that this installation is safe.  If something is changed that impacts the safety of their network, then their view will be that it is whoever makes that change has to pay the full costs incurred by it.

 

We had a similar issue, with an LV overhead cable and pole that was getting in the way of where we wanted to build our house.  The initial approach to the DNO made it clear that we would have to pay the full cost of moving the pole, running new cables, etc, as we were creating the problem, not them.  Things changed when we found an unauthorised underground LV cable crossing our plot, as it had no wayleave or easement to be there, so we asked that they remove it.  Removing it meant moving the pole with the overhead cable, so we came to an agreement where we split the costs of all the works and granted them permission to re-route their underground cable around the edge of our plot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your knowledge.  Interesting. Rock and hard place!

 

On the documentation they sent it has a section called Locating Cables on Site.

 

"The drawings that I have enclosed with this quotation are not suitable for locating cables on site.  To obtain the lastest copies of our cable records please send a plan of the area in question"

 

I don't really understand why this section is in here.  Surely they know where their Assets are?  Are they asking us to locate unseen cables perhaps?

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They almost certainly don't know exactly where their cables run.  Our DNO had no idea there was an underground LV cable running diagonally across our plot, we found it, dug it out and then had to send them a photo to prove it it was really there (lower left in this photo):

 

57400a215fde6_Lookingacrosstheplotfromthetopofwhatwillbetheretainingwall.JPG.74e651558b23ed31b6f6ba740a32edb7.JPG

 

Same goes for the water company, they told us, in writing, that they had no pipes in the area.  When we dug across the lane to put in a drain, we found a cast iron water pipe.  Called the water company and they sent a chap around who confirmed it must be one of theirs and then added it to their plans.

 

The usual way these things work is that they get the landowner to send a plan, then they send a chap around to look at what's really there and make a plan as to how best to come up with a solution.  The trick is to intercept that local engineer and discuss possible routes, etc, as that way there's a better chance of getting something that best meets your and their requirements.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So they have ruled that the building will be within their hse requirements so are you not looking at it from the wrong point of view. Your issue is that a lorry delivering wood chip could potentially hit the cable. So your easiest option would be to change your chosen fuel. If you really want biomass then use pellets. They can still come in bulk deliveries but are blown in so the height won't be an issue. I'm not sure wood chip can be blown in but would cost nothing to phone round and ask.

Or change to either gas if possible, oil if not or if your house will be suitable then go for an ashp. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Jeremy Harris

 

Oh My Goodness!!!!  That is unbelievable.  I am horrified to hear this.  These Monopolies are dangerous companies.  Where is their professional responsibility?  Surely that is illegal?

 

Anyway.  I will apply to the mapping service then, to find out what is under our ground!

 

After a couple of months and massive amounts of research,  I have not really understood the complexities of dealing with these DNOs. until now.  I have been stonewalled by all officials, lawyers and independents when going down all avenues.  You are a gold mine of information.  Thank you so much for your time.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Declan 52

 

There is no opportunity of change from the Biomass option.  But thanks for the tip of ASHP.  I will look into that for other areas! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Ants said:

To Jeremy Harris

 

Oh My Goodness!!!!  That is unbelievable.  I am horrified to hear this.  These Monopolies are dangerous companies.  Where is their professional responsibility?  Surely that is illegal?

 

Anyway.  I will apply to the mapping service then, to find out what is under our ground!

 

After a couple of months and massive amounts of research,  I have not really understood the complexities of dealing with these DNOs. until now.  I have been stonewalled by all officials, lawyers and independents when going down all avenues.  You are a gold mine of information.  Thank you so much for your time.  

 

 

This is just the way things have evolved over the years. 

 

Back when the first water corporations started putting in water pipes, they tended to record where they were, but this would have been on old maps, and often with a fair degree of inaccuracy.  Those corporations gradually got swept up into water boards, and inevitably records were mislaid or lost.  The water boards were privatised, and there was another round of things getting mislaid or lost.  Often there are no "as built" plans of areas of any network or major bit of infrastructure.  Years ago, I was asked to lend a team with a small ROV to try and find the water outlet grid that feeds water from Scammonden Reservoir to the water treatment plant.  My guys spent two days up there, and eventually discovered that the true position of the big outlet was around 100m away from where it was marked on the dam drawings.  It seems that when the dam was built in the 1960s the engineers decided to reposition the outlet from the planned position, probably because they came across something in the ground that made that the easy fix.  No one ever bothered to amend the drawings, so when my guys went up there in the late 1980's it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

 

The DNOs are in much the same position, except the electricity distribution network gets changed more frequently.  The network is subject to occasional damage and repairs, plus the local distribution parts won't have been mapped, anyway, in all probability.  The only way they can find out what's really there, in terms of an accurate position, is to do a site visit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We found an unmapped and unexpected LV cable running diagonally across the plot (it now threads between two piles underneath the ground beam). I pointed it out to the project manager from the DNO, who was visiting site. He shrugged his shoulders and basically said 'so what'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Jeremy Harris

 

That is very interesting.  We the general public have no idea about all this.  It sounds chaotic and out of control.  But I suppose it is their norm.  No wonder the private service companies are impenetrable.  They don't want us to find out the real truth.   If as individuals we ran our lives like this we are put in prison.  One rule for them and a different one for us.  We continue to live in an unjust world.  Lets hope with the opportunity we have for change, whether we agree with the current Country's collective choice or not, we start to get a grip on things.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Andrew

 

I really like this site.  I like learning all this stuff.  Information is power. 

 

I am shocked to hear how they don't care. 

 

It is a good day.  I found real information.

 

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be fair, all the utility companies inherited mountains of inaccurate and incomplete data from the old corporations and boards that had gone before.   It's just a fact of life that big civil engineering works very rarely actually record the "as built" configuration of things like electricity, water and gas connections.  The unknown water pipe running down our lane was dated by a neighbour, who still lives in the house his father built.  He said the pipe dated to 1934, the year the local water company ran mains water to the village.  That water company got nationalised into a local water corporation, then that was amalgamated into a larger water board, then that was privatised into Wessex water, and records just got lost and mislaid along the way, if they ever existed in the first place.

 

They aren't alone, either.  Ships are even worse, and may not only have wiring, plumbing and ventilation systems running in places that aren't shown on the plans, but they may even have bulkheads in the wrong place.

 

On a domestic level, how many houses actually have plans showing the true position of pipes and cables etc?  Probably none, in reality, as these are laid "where they best fit" and are rarely ever added to plans afterwards.  The same goes for even quite large buildings.  The last big programme I was involved with included an additional cost of a couple of hundred thousand at the end to survey the true run of all the services in the building and add them to the plan set.  This was an "extra" and not something that most clients bothered to pay for, apparently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Jeremy

 

Makes me laugh that you know about ships.

 

All that you say makes sense.  I have only learnt the out of sight internal workings of my little terraced house by default when things breakdown.  All systems were put in by an amateur (a very good one though) so it is all bespoke and when the professionals come in I have to give them a brief first so they don't spend that extra couple of days working out where everything is.  They are always very grateful.

 

I am grateful to you and all others for helping me with this.  Thank you.  I think that informed and proper decisions can be made by my Leader now that he knows the whole story.  He was shocked at the price and thought that he was being ripped off but after I inform him of all this I think he will be reassured that this is standard.  I will do a cable search, then get the engineer on site and see if he comes up with any alternatives and maybe it will reduce the cost...... or maybe it will rise?  Ka Sera Sera.

 

Thank you lovely people

 

I am signing off now.  

 

Will be back I am sure when the next project starts.  Biomass Boilers here we come.

 

Angela

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I keep reading this thread and  I still can't fathom the "issue"

 

All I can see is you want a wood chip delivery lorry to be able to deliver wood chips to where you want and the track goes under an HV line.

 

You seem to want them to move or underground that HV line at their cost?  That is one long list of work needed to re route it.

 

Perhaps a picture of the "problem" would help our understanding, but I would be looking at ways to alter / improve the track instead to remove the hazard, that would probably be a lot cheaper?

 

The DNO DO look after tree hazards. They regularly prune trees close to their overhead lines, and one neighbour got SSE to fell a very large Ash tree that would have taken out an 11KV overhead line if it came down. They paid the entire costs of felling the tree (which the neighbour wanted gone as it would have flattened his bungalow if it had fallen that way)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now