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Community / Upgrade to North Isles electricity network providing good results

An SSEN team working on part of the new overhead line on Yell. The company noted that the photo was taken before the government's coronavirus social distancing guidelines were introduced.

THE CHANCES of disruption to power supplies in Yell and Unst during repairs are said to have been reduced after a recent upgrade to the islands’ electricity infrastructure.

Around 4.5km of new underground cable and nearly 2km of overhead line has been installed by SSEN between Camb and Sellafirth in Yell.

The benefits were felt for the first time earlier this month when engineers carried out emergency repairs to a part of the overheard line in Yell which had been damaged by high winds.

In the past, if the power had to go off to ensure safety during repairs, it would have meant turning off the supply to all 796 customers in Unst, Gutcher, Cullivoe and Fetlar.

But the new equipment meant that half of the customers’ electricity was kept on thanks to the re-routing of supply to different parts of the local network.

SSEN’s operations manager in Shetland George Priest said: “As well as the installation of new underground cable and overhead wires, the project saw extra ‘switching points’ and automated equipment installed at key points along the route between Mid Yell and Gutcher.

“The integration of all this new technology makes the network more ‘flexible’ to those of us behind the scenes, as when we’re planning the work we’ve now got more options of re-routing supplies to different parts of the network, reducing the number of customers that need to go off during critical maintenance wherever possible.

“In this case, the damage by the high winds a couple of days earlier was on the main line that supplies power to North Yell, Fetlar and Unst.

“By using the newly installed equipment to re-route customers it meant that we were able to keep the power flowing to almost everyone apart from the northern part of Unst.

“We realise how frustrating it can be when the power is off, and we’d like to thank everyone for their patience as we carried out these emergency repairs, and assure them that we did all we could to safely complete the task as quickly as possible.”