Moving to half-hourly energy reads (BSC P272 and P322): A guide for businesses

Publication date
9th September 2016
Information type
Policy area

New industry changes will affect how some business customers’ electricity use is recorded and how they are billed. These changes apply to businesses in profile class 5 to 8.

This guide will help answer any questions you may have. It gives advice on how to bring down any costs brought about by the change. If you want more detailed information, please read our more detailed FAQs: BSC Modifications P272 and P322.  

P272 and P322: What is happening?

By 1 April 2017, all businesses in profile classes 5 to 8 will have their energy use recorded every half hour. This is part of a process called ‘settlement’.

These changes are due to a modification to the Balancing and Settlement Code called P272.

And, since 5 November 2015, every customer who renews or starts a new contract with a new supplier will have their energy use recorded half hourly and used in ‘settlement’.

This is due to another modification to the Balancing and Settlement Code called P322, which helps businesses & suppliers move to half hourly ‘settlement’.

These changes only apply to non-domestic businesses that are in profile classes 5-8 and have an advanced meter installed.

Does the change apply to my business?

It applies to all businesses in profile classes 5-8 and who have an advanced meter installed. It’s up to the supplier to take all reasonable steps to ensure that businesses in profile classes 5-8 are supplied through advanced meters. This has been the case since April 2014. 

Look at the Meter Point Administration Number/Supply Number on your electricity bill. If the first (two-digit) number in the box to the immediate right of the ‘S’, is 05, 06, 07 or 08, then the changes apply. Otherwise, if the number is 01, 02, 03, 04 or 00, it does not.

Can I change the profile class of my business?

No. The industry rules mean it is not possible to change from profile classes 5-8 to profile classes 3-4.

Can I choose not to be half hourly settled?

No. The industry rules mean it is not possible to remain non half-hourly settled, if you are in profile classes 5-8 and have an advanced meter.

Do I need a new meter?

No. It’s only possible for you to be half hourly settled where your premises already has an advanced meter installed.

It’s up to the suppliers are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that businesses in profile classes 5-8 are supplied through advanced meters. This has been the case since April 2014.

What do I need to do?

Suppliers are responsible for implementing BSC Modifications P272 and P322.  If you are affected by the changes, then your supplier will be in contact with you and we expect them to be clear about your options. The rest of this guide gives some advice on how this could affect your bill and how to get the best energy deal.

Will my bills go up?

Many businesses will see either no change to their bills or they will go down under half hourly ‘settlement’.

However, some businesses may be asked to pay more. This will be because it will take up more time and resources for suppliers to collect and process your electricity use every half hour.

Also, if you have a Current Transformer (CT) meter, you may see an increase in your network charges. One of the main reasons for this increase will be because you will now face charges for the capacity the distribution network operator has reserved for you on their network.

In the future, we expect bills to go down as consumers take more control of their consumption, spreading their use out across the day not just in peak hours. This will bring down costs for network operators, enabling them to avoid future costs and reduce their charges.

Is there anything I can do to bring my bill down?

Yes. When your contract is up for renewal it is the perfect time to shop around to get the best deal. You can:

1. Switch suppliers

Deals vary greatly between suppliers. It’s important you shop around. Ask your supplier for their best possible deal, and then contact other suppliers (external link) to see if they can make you a better offer.

2. Switch tariffs

You could pay less to use electricity off peak hours. If this is an option for your business, ask potential suppliers about switching to a time-of-use tariff to see if your business can make the most of off-peak deals.

3. Shop for agents

Suppliers employ ‘agents’ responsible for reading your meter, collecting data, installing and maintaining your meter and aggregating your data. Although suppliers will appoint agents on your behalf, there’s no reason you can’t appoint your own instead.

Shop around for supplier agents (external link): look for those that are half-hourly qualified, marked as HHMOA, HHDC and HHDA to see if you can find cheaper prices.

However, you should check the contract terms, for example the length of contract, to see it matches with that of your energy supplier.

4.   Check your Maximum Import Capacity (MIC)

For businesses with a current transformer (CT) meter only.

The network operator will charge you a maximum import capacity (MIC) charge for the space it’s reserved you on the network. If you think this is too high, contact your distribution network operator (external link).


Why are these changes being made?

In Great Britain, electricity suppliers and generators trade with each other to meet the needs of consumers. For each half-hour period they compare how much energy suppliers have bought, how much consumers have used, and then calculate what charges a supplier must pay to make up the difference.

This process is called ‘settlement’.

At present, they largely rely on estimates to work out how much electricity customers use. This is because most customers do not have meters that can record their half-hourly consumption.  However, suppliers are required by their licence to take all reasonable steps to install an advanced meter at the premises of customers in profile classes 5-8. These meters can record half hourly consumption.

Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) Modifications P272 and P322 require suppliers to use their profile class 5-8 customers’ half hourly consumption in ‘settlement’.  This means they need to record their customers electricity use every half hour.

The changes will allow your business to take control of the electricity it uses. We expect it will drive suppliers to offer cheaper deals with packages tailored to your individual use.

What is BSC Modification P272?

BSC Modification P272 requires that businesses in profile classes 5-8 must be ‘settled’ using their actual half-hourly consumption data instead of estimates. This will take effect on 1 April 2017.

What is BSC Modification P322?

In the meantime, BSC Modification P322 helps businesses  transition onto half-hourly ‘settlement’ between now and April 2017. Under it, suppliers must make sure that all businesses who start or renew a contract are half-hourly ‘settled’. They must do this within 45 days of acquiring customers or renewing their contract. They’ve been required to do this from 5 November 2015.