How to choose the right grid consultant
With the renewable energy and energy storage industry now awash with developers and consultants, how can landowners looking to invest in energy schemes be confident that they are making the right decision and investing their time and money in the right company or consultant?
Do I go with a developer or consultant?
Crucially, a landowner must take independent advice from a consultant either before they are approached by a developer, or as soon as a developer knocks at their door. Don’t be drawn in by the developer’s offers and promises – of course they’ll promise high returns and a simple process, they want your business. We’ve written about the risks associated with going straight in with a developer. Developers are technology specific and may apply for a technology that is not suitable for your local grid or site. And by signing up with a developer you immediately reduce your ability to negotiate with competing developers to get you the best deal. Before you sign with any developer it’s therefore important to take independent advice.
How to choose a grid rights consultant
Most grid consultants are technical consultants. They have the technical expertise to submit a grid application form. That expertise is ubiquitous. However, the expertise to stack the odds in the landowners favour of getting a scheme are not universal. A landowner needs a grid consultant who:
- understands grid strategy and tactics
- can identify the right technology for the local part of the network, the site and the market conditions at the time
- has relationships with the biggest and best most credible operators of all the relevant technologies
- can then maximise landowners’ chances of achieving a scheme
- is paid based on the success of the final scheme
- manages the progress of the scheme from start (grid application) to finish (scheme deployment).
Beware of the application-only approach
We are aware of national and local land agency firms passing their clients to so-called grid consultants. The landowner pays the consultant a sum of between £1,000 and £4,000 for submitting the application and the consultant then pays a commission fee to the land agent. Be extremely careful of this approach and check that the consultant has the skills and relationships we list above. By simply paying for someone to put in a grid application, a landowner is bypassing any benefits. The value in having grid rights submitted independently by the right grid connection specialist is on putting in an application for exactly the right technology, at exactly the right scale, for part of the network that is appropriate. For this, landowners must employ an out-and-out grid connection specialist.
Link the application to the success of the scheme
Putting it into perspective, there is a about a 1 in 30 chance of a site being suitable for a technology and a grid application being successful. Paying £1,000 to £4,000 on an application is a significant gamble on a 1 in 30 chance. The application may not be for the right technology and the right capacity, and the landowner could be throwing away good money. Our approach is to link our fee to the success of the scheme – a “no-win no-fee” basis. It is in both the landowners’ and our interests to ensure we are putting in an application for the right technology and the right capacity. And we go to the edges of our expertise and work with a network operator to get an accepted grid application.
Follow a scheme from start to finish
We stack those 1 in 30 odds in the landowner’s favour and follow the scheme through from start to finish. With our renumeration completely tied to the scheme’s success, we will only be working with developers and operators who will maximise the chances of delivering a successful scheme.
It worries us how many landowners approach us who have a grid offer in their own name and now don’t know what to do. These landowners have paid for a consultant to put in a grid application, have a grid rights offer and now aren’t being offered the support that they need to go to the next stage and safely transact that offer. It’s a complicated, and often expensive, process if you go it alone. These landowners are in confusion and desperation and have come to us to get them out of their difficulties. To avoid that, they should have taken specialist advice from the right grid connection consultant that met all the right criteria from the outset.