Can you explain what is meant by a capacity limit?
Every business has a maximum import capacity (MIC). This is the maximum amount of electricity that your premises can draw from the electricity network. Your MIC is part of your energy supply agreement and is set by the distribution network operator (DNO), which manages your region’s infrastructure.
MIC is measured in kilovolt Amps (kVA) – and just to confuse matters, it is also sometimes referred to as your Available Supply Capacity or Maximum Power Requirement. The aim of an MIC is to give every business enough energy to meet its operational needs, and your fair share of the available power.
If a business is consistently using more than its allocated capacity, it can be charged up to twice as much per kVA for the additional power used. And businesses that regularly exceed their capacity can face penalties of up to three times the standard rate that they pay for energy. When we’re in the midst of an energy crisis, no business wants to face those additional costs. Ultimately, businesses that constantly breach their limit run the risk of having their supply cut off.
Is this a recent problem?
The legislation changed in 2018 and a lot of businesses increased their MICs at the time to avoid the new surcharges. However, very few organisations had the foresight to realise that electrification was going to push them over their MIC in the coming years.
The primary causes could be anything from a site expansion or introducing new equipment which increases your energy use. Decarbonisation measures such as heat pumps and electric vehicle charge points have had an impact – both are high-load items that draw down a lot of energy. Adding one or two EV charge points in the early days of electrification probably didn’t cause MIC breaches, but as the EV transition has gathered pace it requires more and higher powered charge points at commercial premises.