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Winter Is Here – Understanding Triad Energy Charges

Posted by Micheal Hill on 11 October, 2017

Triad season is once again upon us and as an energy consultant committed to helping clients manage energy effectively and mitigate the impact of rising costs throughout the industry, we would like to inform you on how managing consumption during Triad season can help to dramatically decrease electricity costs.

What are 'Triads' and what is the 'Triad' season?

Triads are a relatively simple concept – the Triads are the three highest demand, half-hour periods on the electricity system per annum. They occur in a half hour period between 16:30 and 18:30 on winter evenings, when industrial demand coincides with residential demand beginning its early evening pick-up.

As the Triads have to be a minimum of ten days apart and in practice they tend to happen in the three coldest 'snaps' of the winter.

The Triad season runs from the start of November to the end of February, but it's not possible to define with absolute certainty which half hours have been the Triads for the winter until the end of the season.

Why are Triads important?

TRIADs are key to determining the costs that National Grid will recover through their Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) charges. TNUoS charges are one of the many third party charges built into business energy costs.

For a meter billed on a Half-Hourly basis, TNUoS charges will be based on the meter’s average demand during the three TRIAD periods and multiplied by the tariff for the demand zone the supply is located in.

Clients can opt to have their TNUoS costs billed on a pass-through basis or included as part of their unit rates, however, only a pass-through approach offers the flexibility to try and reduce demand during TRIADs and lower TNUoS costs, referred to as 'TRIAD avoidance'.

TNUoS for many customers can amount to thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds per annum, so it’s definitely a cost that is worthy of attention. For example, in the highest charging zone (London), 1,000kW reduction in average demand across the three Triads will save £54,970 in the current year. Even in the lowest charging zone - Northern Scotland – this would still save £29,580.

How can Triad costs be reduced?

As Triad charges for many users are directly linked to their electricity demand in the three Triad periods that occur in the Triad season, a client that is able to manage their demand effectively and reduce it in these three periods can potentially save a substantial amount.

Many industry bodies offer Triad warning services to varying degrees of accuracy.  These services typically offer alerts on the likelihood of a Triad occurring on that day, although there is no way to know for certain if a Triad will occur on a particular day.

If a user is in a position to reduce their energy demand during the periods in which a Triad is predicted to occur, they stand to save money relative to the amount of demand they are able to reduce in the periods during which a Triad actually occurred.

Most services typically offer between 15-30 warnings per season, with alerts generally issued on the morning of the day on which the Triad is expected to occur, offering a window of usually up to 6 hours to take action ahead of the Triad occurring.

What do you need to do?

Here are some key steps to ensure that you are managing this aspect of your energy costs.

  1. Look at the detail of your electricity supply contract to check whether it allows your supplier to 'pass-through' TNUoS costs. If it does, read on to step 2.
  2. Consider what options your sites have to minimise demand and/or maximise on-site generation for targeted short (half-hour) periods. Can any electricity-consuming processes be stopped or paused to save a significant amount of power in these timescales? If they can, move to step 3.
  3. With the help of an energy management consultancy you should now be able to conduct an approximate cost/benefit analysis, balancing the potential TNUoS savings against any costs that would be incurred by modifying your core business processes. If benefits look viable, read on to step 4.
  4. Alerts can provide you with advanced notice of when Triads are likely to occur. Inprova Energy offer clients a free triad alert service through a specialist energy service provider*. This service issues an intra-day Triad Alert by email to you by no later than 10am providing at least 6 hours to plan and respond to an event, should you wish to do so.
  5. Alerts will provide you with the opportunity to reduce your electricity usage during these peak times and therefore limit the cost impact at these times. For large energy users, this can mean switching off non-essential machinery during these half-hourly periods. Devise procedures to ensure that you are ready to act to optimise your electricity use when you receive warning of a probable Triad period.

Contact us or download our free eGuide for further information on Triads and how effectively managing your electricity during these periods could help decrease your final energy bill. New Call-to-action *For clients to recieve triad alerts, please sregister no later than 18th October 2017. To sign up contact your dedicated Client Lead.

Originally published 15th January 2014, updated 11th October 2017.