The Basics

You wouldn’t think that there was a massive amount to know about electricity supplies, would you? It’s just all straightforward and simple, right? Well, no actually. It has been utterly astounding as someone new into this industry to find out just how much there is to learn about different types of commercial supplies; billing, suppliers, KVAs, MOPs and more acronyms than you can shake an electrified stick at.

A couple of examples of things that you might want to look at on your own bills and supplies:-


All meters have what is called a topline number and an MPAN number. These are always shown on your bill and look like this

03 801 110
22 2045 3201 210


The topline [the one on the top, usefully] tells us what sort of supply you have. The first two digits show us whether your supply is a single rate, day/night, maximum demand, domestic etc. This is really important for us when we are quoting for clients as the rates vary dependent on the supply type.

The MPAN number is shown below the topline. The first two digits tell us what region you fall under for your distributor. For example, if the first two digits are 22, we know that this client is in the South West region. Prices vary considerably from region to region, mainly due to transportation costs.


If you have a topline that starts with 06 or above, you will have an MD meter. MD meters are common in commercial properties and usually are for companies with a higher demand for electricity, such as manufacturers or companies that use heavy machinery run off electricity. These have something called KVA capacity. There is a finite amount of power available via your sockets to go around. The KVA determines how much of that power you can access [think of it like bandwith for broadband]. Sometimes where a premises needs a lot of power to run everything they need, there is not enough power and the KVA needs to be increased. This is not always available, especially on industrial estates where there are a large number of companies, all vying for power at the same time. Where this happens and a company has to have a guaranteed power supply a substation can be built, however this would be at the cost of the consumer.

Sometimes the opposite happens and a company can find themselves inheriting a large KVA that is not needed. In these situations we can have the KVA reduced but be warned – if you ever need to increase your capacity again there is no guarantee that it will be available and you could end up with a costly substation to build!

These are just two out of hundreds of things that I have been learning about since joining costgard. It is worth having a look at your bill and making sure you know what you are paying for and seeing whether you are on the appropriate supply for your business.