Concern over Portsmouth power supply ahead of warships arrival

The leader of Portsmouth City Council has raised concerns about the power supply to Portsmouth ahead of the arrival of two new aircraft carriers. Pictured here is a computer graphic of HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth Harbour
The leader of Portsmouth City Council has raised concerns about the power supply to Portsmouth ahead of the arrival of two new aircraft carriers. Pictured here is a computer graphic of HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth Harbour
Charles Manson in 2014. Picture: WikiCommons

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The leader of Portsmouth City Council has called for a meeting with the government’s energy secretary over concerns about the city’s increased energy demands.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has written to Ed Davey with his fears the electrical distribution network will not be able to cope with the immense power demands of two new aircraft carriers which are due to arrive at the naval base later this decade.

30/5/2013 (PM/MOL)''The new Mary Rose Museum was officially unveiled on Thursday at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.''Pictured is: Cllr. Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council who attended the Mary Rose Museum opening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131460-6179) ENGPPP00120130530225033

30/5/2013 (PM/MOL)''The new Mary Rose Museum was officially unveiled on Thursday at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.''Pictured is: Cllr. Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council who attended the Mary Rose Museum opening.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131460-6179) ENGPPP00120130530225033

He said the city has a limit of 90 mega volt ampere, and at peak times demand already reaches 86MVA even without the new warships.

As reported in The News, one option being considered is for a power station to be built inside the walls of Portsmouth’s naval base.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said a secure electrical supply is crucial to attracting investment into the city.

‘With the arrival of the two new carriers into Portsmouth the power needs will increase by 10 MW per ship when they plug into the mains,’ he said.

‘At peak, this will mean the city will go dark.

‘Even without the arrival of the new aircraft carriers the energy demands within the city are very close to the maximum that SSE is able to distribute and will increase with the regeneration of the city.’

THE COUNCIL LEADER’S LETTER IN FULL

Dear Ed,

I am writing to ask if I can come and see you for half an hour about the problems we have in Portsmouth with the electrical distribution which is structurally deficient, and unready to meet the emerging demand for electricity.

The city has electricity distributed to it by SSE (SEPD), and has a capacity limit of 90 MVA owing to the distribution network. At peak use periods within the year we are using up to 86 MVA which gives very little headroom.

Critically, we have had feedback from firms thinking of locating to the area that this a major concern to them as they fear they cannot be guaranteed uninterrupted supply of electricity and connection costs are much higher than anticipated as SSE seek to defray the cost of improving their system of electricity distribution to individual users.

Furthermore, with the arrival of the two new carriers into Portsmouth the power needs will increase by 10 MW per ship when they plug into the mains. At peak, this will mean that the city will go dark.

The council takes the view that SSE are falling short of meeting their duty under the Electricity Act 1989, section 9, to develop and maintain an efficient, co-ordinated, and commercial system of electricity distribution, and that the problem is not attributable to individual users; rather, the general capacity limit is being reached.

Previously, there have been plans within the Navy about the building of a power station within the dockyard but so far no decisions have been made and our officers are currently working with them to determine the future electricity demand of the city, including the naval base, to 2030. Even without the arrival of the new aircraft carriers the energy demands within the city are very close to the maximum that SSE are able to distribute and will increase with the regeneration of the city.

This is a real concern and I wonder if I can meet with you to be able to explore what pressure your department can bring to get key parties such as SSE to recognise their duty, and to come to the table positively with a strategy and a solution.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council