Power company gets ready for winter

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) is gearing up for winter with a multi-million pound investment programme and a wide range of projects and activities to maintain and strengthen its electricity network.

SHEPD is the company responsible for distributing electricity in Scotland north of the Central Belt, and has been busy preparing for all eventualities following the last two winters’ extreme conditions. In 2011/12 the company plans to invest around £45M maintaining and upgrading its distribution networks, essential for keeping the lights on for its 700,000 customers.

Line patrols have taken place to give a strategic detailed view of the electricity network condition. Particular attention has been placed on the main fault areas from last year to identify parts which may have caused problems again, enabling SHEPD to take proactive steps to help prevent reoccurrences this year.

Some of the other activities that SHEPD have carried out throughout Scotland include:-

· Ongoing maintenance and refurbishment of the overhead network to ensure its reliability and security, with over £16m of investment in this activity alone;

· Undergrounding of the electricity network which had previously been on overhead lines passing over the A9 around Auchterarder, one of Scotland’s busiest arterial routes, which was badly affected last winter due to a build up of snow and ice on the overhead line – this will help ensure that any faults on this part of the network should not impact road users;

· To aid access an additional ten 4X4 vehicles have been brought in to help ensure engineers are able to reach the more remote parts of the network which can be difficult to reach in bad weather; · To help improve the service to customers during interruptions, street surveys have taken placed across the country, finding out what customers expect during outages and how customers would like to be kept updated;

· SHEPD have strengthened their mobile generation fleet, allowing supplies to be restored quickly in the event of interruptions whilst permanent repairs take place;

· SHEPDs Tree Cutting division have taken proactive steps to remove trees and branches which posed a risk of coming into contact with overhead lines, clearing over 1000km of the network;

· Safety checks on all SHEPD vehicles have taken place to ensure they are able to withstand winter conditions.

· Working closely with local authorities to co-ordinate access to snow moving equipment in the event it is required. Access in heavy snow can be the biggest challenge crews face.