MP says OfGem must help

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says greater resilience is urgently needed on the islands’ electricity supply given the current plan B to use Stornoway Power Station is now becoming the only option for the foreseeable future.
Angus MacNeil MP has called on OfGem to engage.Angus MacNeil MP has called on OfGem to engage.
Angus MacNeil MP has called on OfGem to engage.

Last week’s unexpected system outage across Lewis and Harris was due to a fault identified on the 33,000-volt subsea electricity distribution cable that connects Lewis and Harris to the mainland.

Mr MacNeil has now written to Ofgem, who regulate power supplies, to look at the options with greater resilience.

He said: “The fault is at 100 metre depth, about 15 kilometres from land and it might be the case that the cable has to be fully replaced at a cost of tens of millions of pounds.

“There would be a period of months therefore that Lewis and Harris would be on the backup with Battery Point Power Station.

“The concern here is that the backup is now a long term backup - there is no backup left.

“I’ve been in touch with Ofgem over the last five weeks about the line feeding the islands, particularly the substations and Quoich and Broadford in Skye, SSE had flagged them up as being of concern but now the undersea cable has gone and I think Ofgem have to engage.

“Do we want to have a triangular area in the Minch for resilience and backup so that we could have a cable between Harris and North Uist?

“Then there is the question of the undersea cable that renewable energy would have brought in. Ofgem don’t use backup as being a factor for having the interconnector.

“Finally, it would be good to know how much renewable energy is able to help and ameliorate the amount of diesel that’s required at the Battery Power Station every time it has to be used.

“Ofgem has to engage with the local community to make sure that resilience improves for the islands.

“This is particularly important as Battery Point Power Station in Stornoway is a backup but is now becoming for the foreseeable few months, the permanent and only source.”

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