ScottishPower is preparing for winter with a major investment programme involving hundreds of engineers to inspect and reinforce its electricity network. The work is part of the company’s planned £1.8bn investment in its electricity networks between 2012 and 2014.
The company distributes electricity to around 2 million homes and businesses in central and southern Scotland, including Scotland’s largest cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Following severe winter weather conditions experienced in the last few years, ScottishPower is again focusing on ensuring its network is as robust as possible for the winter months.
Around £330m will be invested throughout this year alone in maintaining, upgrading and extending the ScottishPower electricity network, essential for keeping the lights on via more than 28,000km of overhead lines, 40,000km of underground cables and nearly 42,000 substations.
ScottishPower’s parent company, Iberdrola, recently announced that over 40% of its global investment would be spent in the UK, with a focus on upgrades and major projects on the electricity network in Scotland.
In order to fully assess the condition of its power lines, and allow the company to plan and carry out essential maintenance work, a detailed inspection process is well underway. This includes:
- Helicopter inspections and foot inspections by engineers, covering thousands of kilometres of lines every year
- Thermal Inspections – this is helicopter based, using thermal imaging cameras to detect any potential issues on power line
- Helicopter Condition Based Assessments – this process involves obtaining detailed high resolution imagery of all the components on the line and in turn this is the main driver for understanding where faults may occu
- Vegetation Surveys – All power lines are also subject to regular vegetation management surveys, where the company can consider the health of trees lying close to power lines and plan maintenance work
Guy Jefferson, Operation Director at ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “We make significant investments every year to ensure our electricity network is as robust as possible, and we increase our activity at this time of year in order to prepare for potential severe winter weather conditions.
“Following a number of storms last winter, including the most destructive in a generation on January 2nd, we are only too aware that our activity at this time of year is vital.
“This ongoing investment has made substantial improvements to the electricity network in recent years. The storm in January saw similar wind conditions to the Boxing Day storm of 1998, but the network experienced 80% fewer faults and we managed to restore supplies across the network more quickly.
“As we saw last winter, and have seen in America in the last few weeks, destructive and extreme weather conditions will inevitably lead to a disruption of electricity supplies. However, with strategic investment and preparation, we can do all that is possible to limit the impact of extreme weather.”
The company has also outlined advice for customers should there be an unexpected interruption to their electricity supply.
What to do if the power goes out
Check your trip switches and check to see if your neighbours have lost supply. Don’t assume that we will know that your power has gone off. Please report any loss of supply using the 24 hour emergency number 0845 272 7999. You may wish to keep a note of this number and keep it near to your telephone.
If electricity is crucial to your health (for instance, if you use medical equipment at home) ask to be included on our priority service register. You can do this by contacting us on 0845 273 4444 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure any medical equipment has battery back-up.
Keep a battery powered radio and fresh batteries in your house, as you may be able to receive updates on the incident.
Ensure you have a torch with charged batteries or a wind up dynamo torch. Leave it somewhere you can get to easily. You can also buy battery-powered lights that plug into a power socket and come on automatically during an outage.
Many modern telephones won’t work if power is interrupted so please try to keep at least one phone in your house that doesn’t run off of the mains supply. i.e. a traditional analogue telephone or mobile.
Keep your vehicle's fuel tank at least half-full because many service stations can't pump fuel during a power failure.
Media information: Kenny Craig - 0141 614 4525