Power firm pledges to reduce its energy distribution costs

REDUCING THE COST Power distribution prices are lowering
REDUCING THE COST Power distribution prices are lowering
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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FAMILIES living in the Portsmouth area could see their electricity bills reduced by 10 per cent from 2015.

SSE’s power distribution business, which is responsible for getting power to the customers’ front door, will invest around £486m every year in new technology which, it says, will reduce the number of power cuts, and also the amount of people affected when their lights do go out.

The firm’s Cosham depot is going to be instrumental in rolling out the new technology, which includes a way to pinpoint where a fault has occurred and use circuit breakers placed along the electricity supply to minimise disruption.

Its operations manager, Andy Brown, explained: ‘Our main priority is keeping the lights on, and that’s never going to change.

‘What we’re going to do is minimise the length of time people suffer outages using new technology and new techniques.

‘Before, if a fault was identified the main breaker would trip, affecting between 1,500 and 1,800 homes.

‘With the new technology, if the fault occurs beyond a circuit breaker, only 50 per cent of those homes will be affected.

‘The equipment then will talk to the next piece of equipment, which might be another 50 per cent down the network, identify where the fault is, and then switch the power back towards the fault from the other direction, again reducing the number of homes affected.

‘That will all happen in about five or six seconds and reduce the power cut to only around 100 or 150 homes.’

Mr Brown said it can sometimes take up to two hours for an engineer to get to a fault, especially during rush hour or in the middle of the night.

But what the new system will do is try and get the power back on by re-routing it, so those affected do not have to wait.

And he added: ‘This doesn’t mean there will be fewer engineers, because the faults will still need to be fixed.

‘If anything, we will need more staff to install the equipment, maintain it and to reconfigure it in the future.

‘The saving will come because whenever there is an outage we are fined by the regulator. If we reduced the amount of power cuts, and the amount of homes affected, our fines will be decreased maybe by as much as 90 per cent.’

The firm’s blueprint has been given to the regulator, Ofgem, for consideration, and includes its 12-point plan for the future.

Distribution makes up 16 per cent of an energy bill. See yourfutureenergynetwork.co.uk/