UK-based Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) continues to make good progress with its project to replace of one of the two subsea electricity distribution cables that connect Orkney, archipelago off the northeastern coast, to mainland Scotland, with the completion of a marine survey of the proposed route.
The marine survey was carried out by specialist contractor, Global, during September and October and was accompanied by a series of open-door events in Orkney and Caithness to give interested parties an opportunity to learn more about the Pentland Firth East project and comment on the proposals.
SSEN now intends to apply to Marine Scotland for a marine licence for the essential works in December, with cable production expected to complete by March 2020. Installation of the 33kV cable, which will follow the existing route from Murkle Bay, near Thurso, to Rackwick Bay on Hoy, is scheduled to start in April 2020 with energisation later that summer.
The Pentland Firth East cable was identified for replacement after routine inspections found it was coming to the end of its operational life and a long-term solution was needed to maintain a safe, secure and reliable power supply to homes and businesses in Orkney.
In October, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) published its decision to reject a proposal from SSEN to fund the £30m project through a high value ‘reopener’ of the RIIO-ED1 price control.
SSEN remains highly disappointed with this outcome and, concurrent with the cable replacement, is engaging with Ofgem to establish alternative mechanisms for the recovery of efficient expenditure related to the project.