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Search starts for ideal new power station

A LONG anticipated consultation into the future of Shetland’s electricity supply has begun, which will include four public meetings across the isles.

The move comes after energy regulator Ofgem rejected plans for a new 90 megawatt  ‘dual fuel’ power station to be built at Gremista in Lerwick by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD).

Ofgem said they were not convinced SHEPD had come up with the most economic solution to tackling the high cost of generating power in Shetland, which is not connected to the national electricity network.

Last week Ofgem said last year alone it cost £26.6 million to subsidise keeping the lights on in Shetland for the same price as elsewhere, paid for by the rest of the UK’s electricity customers.

SHEPD is now working closely with Ofgem to carry out “an open competitive process to identify the most economic and efficient solution for Shetland from the market”.

As part of this process, SHEPD has organised four drop in sessions running from 3pm to across the isles next month at:

• Dunrossness Central Public Hall, on Wednesday 12 November;
• Shetland Museum and Archives, on Thursday 13 November;
• Mid Yell Leisure Centre, on Wednesday 19 November; and
• Brae Leisure Centre, on Thursday 20 November.

The consultation ends on 19 December with full details about how to participate here.

SHEPD’s director of distribution Stuart Hogarth said they wanted to encourage as much feedback as possible from the general public as possible.

The company is looking at how it can provide a reliable supply, how to reduce demand as much as possible and how to introduce renewable sources of energy.

“We want the priorities of our customers in Shetland to be at the heart of the process ahead, so they can feel confident that the outcome will meet their future needs,” Hogarth said.

“Our proposals are designed to be as open as possible to a wide range of technologies. We are also keen to engage with industrial and commercial stakeholders in Shetland to explore whether there are options to manage demand more efficiently and effectively.

“I would encourage people to come to the events we are holding and to make sure they have their say before the deadline on Friday 19 December.”

In February Shetland Islands Council approved plans for the new power station, with SHEPD hoping to start construction next year.

Now SHEPD say that they do not expect the power station to be completed until 2019 due to the new tendering process that will take place next year.

Currently electricity demand in Shetland ranges from 11 megawatts in the summer to almost 50 megawatts in the winter. Peak demand is expected to rise to 57MW by 2019 and 68MW by 2033.