ESO proposes retrospective application of upcoming long-term connections reforms

  • Today ESO has published initial proposals to further develop the wide-ranging long-term connections reforms we announced in December last year – applying the First Ready, First Connected approach to the whole queue.
  • Reformed process could be in place by January 2025, subject to timelines for industry consultation and regulatory processes.
  • ESO internal analysis of available data indicates that the proposals, as set out today, could potentially halve the size of the queue, enabling earlier connection dates for viable projects. 
  • We look forward to working with stakeholders as these proposals develop.

What is different about the proposals you are setting out today?

Previously, our First Ready, First Connected reforms (known within industry as ‘TMO4’) would only have applied to new connection applications and significant Modification Applications received from January 2025 onwards. 

Today’s proposals would build on this, with significant action as soon as possible across the whole of the current queue. Due to the fast-growing nature of the queue, this is needed if we are to drive improved connections dates in the timescales needed to deliver on the objectives of the Connections Action Plan (CAP). 

These reforms are designed to work in tandem with initiatives from the ESO’s five-point plan, as well as work by wider industry such as the ENA’s 3-point plan for connections.

Why are you proposing this? 

Retrospective application to the whole of the queue will go further and faster – delivering quicker connections for viable projects by raising entry requirements, removing stalled projects, better utilising existing network capacity and better allocating available network capacity.

These proposals are in development and subject to change as they go through the relevant regulatory processes. However, our internal analysis of available data indicates that the proposals as set out today could potentially halve the size of the queue, enabling earlier connection dates for viable projects.

In simple terms, how would these proposals work?

Under the reformed First Ready, First Connected ‘gated’ approach, projects will enter the connections process at ‘Gate 1’ but will need to reach certain criteria to arrive at ‘Gate 2’ at which point projects can obtain a queue position and a connection date. Prior to reaching Gate 2, projects would only receive an indicative connection date and connection point. 

As set out above, a key difference in today’s announcement is that we will seek to apply this First Ready, First Connected model retrospectively, across all projects in the connections queue. Within industry, this will be referred to as ‘TMO4+’. 

Projects in the existing queue will be given a period of time, prior to the implementation of these reforms, to demonstrate whether they have met Gate 2. Where projects meet the criteria, they will have the option to retain their existing connection date, or may request an accelerated connection date based on the reformed queue. 

Where projects in the existing queue do not meet the criteria, they will move to an indicative connection date and an indicative connection point. They will also no longer be subject to liabilities and securities, or to Queue Management Milestones. Projects can apply for a Gate 2 offer after they have met the Gate 2 criteria. 

Where can I find out more information?

We have published a document setting out our proposed reforms in more detail.

Find out more 

How fast are new projects joining the queue?

Since October 2022, the transmission connections queue has grown by more than 275GW and has been growing at an average of over 20GW a month for the last 12 months. The distribution connections queue has also continued to grow and, at the current rate of growth, the total queue (across transmission and distribution) is likely to exceed 800GW by the end of 2024. This is over four times the installed capacity we anticipate needing by 2050.

What happens next?

These proposals were first put forward by the ESO to the Connections Delivery Board last month, which saw broad support for the ESO to move on with further development of the proposals. 

Implementation will require changes to industry Codes and Licence Conditions. We will shortly submit applications for urgent Code Modification Proposals (CMPs) and will request that these are treated as urgent CMPs. The code modification process will provide the opportunity for formal consultation with stakeholders as the proposals are progressed.

Subject to the regulator’s approval of timelines for the code modification process, this reformed process could be in place by January 2025. 

We will continue to develop our implementation plans alongside Ofgem, Government and wider industry and will continue to engage with stakeholders closely over the coming months. We will also explore transitional arrangements, which could involve earlier introduction of aspects of the reformed approach.