Network March 2017

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 21 of 35

NETWORK / 22 / MARCH 2017 less manpower available and were wary of sending teams to help those in need because they might need their staff to assist in their own efforts. Criticism of the performance of DNOs was rife. In January 2014, the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee branded five of the six DNOs "complacent". UKPN and SSEN were fined £8 million for their inadequate responses, including leaving customers waiting 13 minutes on their helplines for information. In the wake of that storm, UKPN launched an emergency power cut helpline to improve communications with customers. Last year a national three-digit number was rolled out to assist customers in any distribution area to report a power cut. Already Deehan says 32% of all calls come through this 105 number. ENW was relatively unscathed by the 2013 storms, but was it blindsided in 2015? delivery engineer Robert Elphick says not. "We have had some recent events which were much more localised than Storm Desmond, it's always something that has been on our mind and part of our investment plan. And it comes right back round to the start of our conversation; we have always provided the defences up to the recommended levels of the environment agency." Back in September, Peter Emery, new to his post as ENW chief executive, laid the blame for the devastation firmly at the feet of the EA, saying the agency's historically inadequate approach to weather and climate forecasting has led to underinvestment in storm and flood resilience by energy networks. Deehan neatly sums the issue up: "Everybody has their own skill set, we deal with electricity, we have to trust the experts in other fields to provide the right data." Like all DNOs, ENW invests heavily each year to ensure the resilience of its network, but that investment is not normally focused on flooding. "For us, high winds are our biggest issue. That is a perennial problem and because we get it so ožen we are very good at dealing with it," explains Deehan. "We manage to get virtually all customers back when we have a major storm within 24 hours." Of the £130 million investment ENW is making in its network, £7.7 million is being spent on upgrading and replacing overhead power lines with automated technology. The impact of such technology has been massive, Deehan says. "Over the past five years there has been a tangible reduction in the number of minutes lost and a lot of that is down to a whole suite of investment." WPD has also installed automated technology to good effect. Its annual report for 2015/16 revealed an almost 50% reduction in the average time its customers are without power when compared with the same figure for 2011/12. Almost 90% of customers have their supplies restored within one hour of an HV fault. An area of focus for all DNOs each year is tree cutting. Vegetation was the principal reason for the extended power cuts in 2013. ENW alone has cut 505 miles of trees since Desmond. Although Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks is developing technology to map vegetation growth to improve its investment plan, a complete solution to the problem of vegetation is to underground the cable. ENW has spent £15.4 million over the past year undergrounding particularly vulnerable assets, but with the cost being ten times that of overground cable it is prohibitively expensive. Despite the backlash against DNOs in recent years, Deehan says the local community understood ENW's plight. When the DNO called for energy to be saved across the area, the local council was singled out for being wasteful by keeping the city's Christmas lights on. But understanding only goes so far. One Lancaster resident made the unhelpful comparison during Network's FLOODING MEASURES • Investment of £4.6 million to help further protect power supplies at Lancaster substation on Caton Road to withstand a 'once-in-1,000- year' floods. • Work includes raising the 132kV grid transformers and all associated plant onto a single high-level mezzanine platform three metres high to help protect equipment. • Applied waterproof membranes and ducting seals around all the doors and installed cameras so ENW can watch live video from any depot. • Installed 33kV cables and joints to transfer all circuits on to new 33kV switchgear (13 circuits). • Constructed a new control room for 33/11kV primary substation protection and control equipment. STORM RESILIENCE

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Network - Network March 2017