You may think that because Wales is part of the United Kingdom, that it’s exactly the same nationwide, but that is not the case in some respects. Countries within the United Kingdom all have slightly different energy infrastructures, especially in Northern Ireland, where it is completely different. Although a great deal of suppliers from Great Britain are available in Wales, the main difference comes in distribution and transmission. This is how your energy physically arrives at your home. Read through this article and get clued up about how gas and electricity works in Wales!
Is our energy the same as in England?
Gas and electric supply throughout Great Britain is identical, it travels up and down the company through the various transmission and distribution networks but arrives at your home the same. It comes in at the same voltage and can often be from the exact same power station.
You are able to switch your tariffs and compare prices just as you would in Scotland or England. This is not the case in Northern Ireland, however, who have a completely different system to us. Our generation infrastructure is owned by various private companies dotted about the UK. The gas and electricity generated in these plants is funnelled into the transmission grid, which, in Wales, is operated by National Grid for both gas and electricity.
Electricity distribution is split into two key areas in Wales: the north; and the south. Northern Wales is covered by Scottish Power Energy Networks, whilst the south is covered by Western Power Distribution. Both of these companies operate in other areas of Great Britain and are not exclusive to Wales.
Distribution lines are the wooden electrical pylons that appear around small towns and villages. You will not see these in the middle of cities, as they function a little bit differently. In cities, distribution lines are placed underground. This allows for easier maintenance and cleaner placements.
Distribution is the finally part of the transportation process in electricity supply. Once it gets into your local area from the transmission networks, the electricity will be passed along to the distribution lines and then channeled into your home at a useable voltage. The entry voltage in Wales is 230V. This is the same as most of Europe.
Gas distribution, much like electricity, is the final step in the supply process. The difference is, it’s a little less likely that you will have seen the distribution pipes for you gas supply. The entirety of Wales is covered by Wales & West Utilities for gas distribution and is headquartered in Newport.
Gas travels along local pipelines that sees the gas reduced in pressure, and thus speed, to be delivered to your home. These networks, however, are not as clearly visible as electricity pylons, so they are not as common knowledge.
The tariffs available to you in Wales are pretty much identical to those available in England. The only country, so it seems, that has exclusive tariffs, is Scotland, which seem to have Scottish-only suppliers. That said, none of the major suppliers are actually from Wales, they are all either from Scotland or England.
The only energy company that was from Wales was bought out by SSE to become a subsidiary of Scottish & Southern Energy plc. This was called SWALEC (South Wales Electricity Board). This was in a time when electricity boards we all public. Now, however, no such companies exist.
The same principles apply when you want to switch provider as they do in any other region of Great Britain. Using a comparison tool like Selectra , you can see which tariffs are available to you at any one time, all displayed to you in order of price. You may find that prices differ in some areas, but this because of static charges applied to your bill from local distribution networks.