Donald Mackenzie, Western Isles Generation Manager at SSEN (right) and Alasdair Allan MSP (left) on a tour of the Battery Point Power Station

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan met with engineers and staff at the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) depot in Stornoway on Monday to hear about the work they are doing to upgrade the electricity network across the Western Isles.

During Mr Allan’s time at the depot he was updated on the £3m SSEN is investing in upgrading the electricity network across the Western Isles to help improve security of supply.

Works on the islands include:

·         £1.3m refurbishment of 65km of overhead lines on the Isle of Barra, including new poles and conductors.

·         £250,000 to replace 350 low voltage poles on Lewis and Harris to improve network reliability and to improve fault restoration times.

·         £240,000 project to rebuild the overhead network on Clachan, North Uist, replacing 96 poles and the installation of new switchgear, making it more resilient to lightning strikes and high winds.

·         A £560,000 upgrade of the transformer in Pollacher, South Uist, which was due for replacement.

·         £500,000 on general maintenance and upgrades across the islands.

This series of upgrade programmes, which started between April and August should be fully completed by March 2017 and will mean that fewer customers are impacted by power cuts, as the works will enhance and protect the network. 

Simon Horne, Western Isles Depot Manager at SSEN, said: “We know how important a reliable and safe electricity supply is to our local communities.  This series of extensive works will help to deliver that for years to come.

“The majority of the works are being carried out by local staff that are based on the islands, with support by teams from the mainland. This investment shows our commitment to improving the service to our customers on the Western Isles”

Alasdair Allan MSP, said: “Electricity is a basic human necessity and living on an island should not mean you have to live with a less reliable connection to the grid. It was reassuring to see the work being done to prevent power outages and to know that, in the event of a loss of power, we have well trained local engineers on hand to bring the power back on as quickly as possible.

“When I stopped by, some 75% of the isles’ power demand was being met by wind energy. I have to say I found this particularly impressive for a typical Monday afternoon and a stark reminder of the vast renewable potentials our islands hold.

 “I would like to warmly thank the staff for their help today in showing me the valuable work being done onsite”