Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (operating as Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission under licence) is holding two separate consultation events in Stornoway on Monday (March 12) - including one aimed at the general public - over the proposed Interconnector electricity link to the Western Isles.
SSEN has been developing proposals to massively upgrade the transmission connection to the Western Isles for more than a decade.
The company says that “due to several factors over this time, including financial barriers to developers associated with transmission charges, changes in government policy or the readiness of renewable developers across the Western Isles, it has not been possible to proceed with the transmission connection to date.

“Following the UK Government’s decision to allow remote island wind projects to compete for support in the next subsidy allocation (Contracts for Difference) in spring 2019, this has opened up the potential for significant volumes of new renewable generation looking to connect in the Western Isles, both at transmission and distribution level.
“SSEN is therefore taking forward proposals to provide a transmission connection to the main GB transmission system, subject to developer commitment, which is likely to depend on the successful award of a CfD or some other form of policy support or route to market. The transmission connection would also be subject to the necessary planning and regulatory approvals.
A spokesperson for Lewis Wind Power commented: “We are pleased to see SSE working through the required process to develop the final proposal for the new interconnector to the mainland, which is essential if we are to have any new renewable power projects built and connected to the grid on Lewis.
“However, the cable can only be laid if it is clear that there are enough renewable energy projects going ahead to justify it.
“Lewis Wind Power is developing the two largest projects on the island and together these would make up the lion’s share of capacity required to trigger the cable.
“The schemes have planning consent and grid connection agreements in place so are ready to bid in next year’s auction for contracts for low carbon power.
“If successful, we will be ready to invest and deliver the core of the business case for the proposed new link to the mainland.”
SSEN’s proposal would see a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) subsea transmission link connecting from the Western Isles to the main GB transmission system enabling renewable generation seeking to connect on the Western Isles access to the GB market.
SSEN is currently analysing the economics of the link based on a range of generation profiles to identify the ‘tipping point’ to justify the investment. This is the point at which the cost of the investment is exceeded by the benefits of the renewable energy supplied to energy consumers.  
This will be covered in more detail as part of SSEN’s Needs Case to Ofgem, which is part of the regulatory approval process and is expected to be submitted in summer 2018.
In order to seek the views of the local community and other interested parties, two separate consultation events will be held at the Cabarfeidh Hotel in Stornoway on Monday 12 March.
The first consultation will engage with pre-invited developers and other parties with an interest in connecting to the network.
This event will provide an update on the proposed connection project and the process for securing regulatory approval from industry regulator Ofgem.
In addition, it will provide a forum for developers to update SSEN on their plans for projects that may come forward as a result of the proposed GB mainland transmission connection.
At the same time an open public consultation event will provide an opportunity for members of the public to learn more about SSEN’s plans to construct a submarine electricity cable between Arnish on Lewis and Dundonnell on the Scottish mainland, ahead of SSEN submitting a full planning application to Marine Scotland in June 2018.
Daryn Lucas, Project Manager for the Western Isles link, says:"We look forward to engaging with local stakeholders at these two events to gain valuable feedback as we progress proposed transmission reinforcement plans on the Western Isles.
"The Western Isles has been subject to a unique range of political, regulatory and commercial challenges stretching over a decade.
“Continuing to engage with our customers, stakeholders and other interested parties will be vital as we move forward with proposals to provide a transmission connection, once developer commitment, regulatory approval and planning consent has been secured."

Isles Transmission Connection – Regulatory Approval Workshop
Monday 12 March: 2.30pm - 5pm
Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway

Arnish to Dundonnell Submarine Electricity Cable – Public Consultation
Monday 12 March: 3pm-7pm Cabarfeidh Hotel, Stornoway

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