Island power stations will continue to run for at least the next week, with the main power connection to the mainland cut for the foreseeable future by a landslide yesterday morning (Monday November 12th) near Invergarry, on a 35km-long stretch of single track road alongside Loch Hourn.
Scalpay, Huisinis and Urgha in Harris - along with Coll in Lewis - will be without power on various days this week for planned maintenance work. The landslide brought down pylons and power lines, cutting the connection from the main transmission network to Skye, Lochalsh and the Western Isles.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said that 9,000 tonnes of soil and rock had fallen, with a complex process of planning and logistics needed to restore power temporarily using island
power-stations, mobile generators and work-round switching on the main transmission network.
SSEN said today; "We would like to apologise to all our customers for the loss of power on Monday 12th November.  The fault was caused by a major landslide near Quoich Dam which brought down overhead lines carrying power to 23,000 customers on Skye and the Western Isles. Due to the complexities involved in such a large-scale operation, we recognise our estimates for restoring power to the remainder of our customers changed throughout the day as the damage became more apparent.  Please accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused and we thank you for your patience whilst we worked to restore all supplies."
All Western Isles customers now have power restored, running from the diesel-fired power stations in Stornoway, Arnish, Ardveenish in Barra and in North and South Uist. An SSEN spokesperson told this morning (Tuesday November 13th) that a time-frame had not yet been set on the restoration of mainline power.
The Western Isles are serviced by a single connection via Skye to the main transmission network. The island power stations provide the back-up service in case of an outage of this nature. Yesterday Battery Point was running within one hour of the power loss, with parts of Stornoway restored to power immediately and other areas gradually switched on as power became available.
Customers in Tarbert and Scalpay had the longest outage, restored to power around 7pm yesterday. SSEN had arranged for hot meals to be provided at the Hotel Hebrides in Tarbert and at North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay.
SSEN’s island-based teams this morning posted a thank you message on Twitter after what they described as a ‘challenging’ day yesterday. In it they said: “We’d like to thank everyone for their lovely comments – we really do appreciate the patience and understanding all of our customers demonstrated throughout the day.
"You may see our teams around the islands today who are working hard to get the network back to a normal state. Please do say hello, I’m sure they’ll appreciate a friendly smile!”
Planning meetings at Battery Point today will focus on staff cover and the delivery of planned maintenance and upgrade work this week in Scalpay, Huisinis and Coll.
At present these planned works, involving power switch-off for customers, are expected to continue as follows:
Scalpay and Urgha – Wednesday (November 14th) 9am to 5pm for installation of a pole-mounted circuit-breaker at Urgha and installation of lightning arresters. Hot meals will be provided to affected customers at North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay and at the Hotel Hebrides in Tarbert.
Huisinis – Thursday (November 15th) 8.30am to 5pm for pole upgrades and installation of lightning arresters.
Coll – Friday (November 16th) 9am to 4pm for pole upgrades and installation of lightning arresters.
All affected customers have received letters from SSEN giving details of these planned outages.
Further updates on the restoration of mainline power will be given as they become available.