Outer Hebrides MP pushes for progress on substation upgrades

Island MP Angus Brendan MacNeil

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A call has been made for progress in the renewal and upgrade of substations directly supplying power to the Outer Hebrides.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has had discussions with energy supplier Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) which is concerned work to upgrade and renew substations at Broadford on Skye and Quoich have been halted.

SSE outlined the current substations were reaching the end of life and a lack of progress could lead to future problems as the only way of feeding the Outer Hebrides is through the Fort Augustus line which spurs though Skye then on to island groups.

In a letter to Ofgem, Mr MacNeil said: ‘These are substations that SSE is worried are at the end of their life and if they are not in use, the consequences for those of us at the end of the line would be difficult.

‘The only feed to the Outer Hebrides is from the Fort Augustus line passing through Skye which then spurs on to the island groups in the Outer Hebrides, one north to Lewis and Harris and one south to Uist and Barra.

‘It is concerning a risk which would not be accepted in other industries, such as aviation, seems to be accepted within the energy networks.

‘I also have concerns about the equipment at Sloy hydro power station. The equipment and transformers there are reaching the end of their lives. If there was ever a black-start issue, with Sloy being used to start up Peterhead, to have the possibility of those two being out at the same time seems an unnaturally high risk to take.’

Ofgem has acknowledged the letter from Mr MacNeil and he awaits a response.