Innerleithen: ‘Daily’ power cuts ‘getting out of hand’

RESIDENTS in a Borders town have been facing daily power outages, a meeting has been told.

And community leaders in Innerleithen say they are concerned about being left in the dark over investment plans to upgrade the town’s “antiquated” system.

In February 2020, energy bosses promised that Innerleithen was at the top of the list as part of a £269m investment programme in Edinburgh and the Borders to install a new primary line.

Although these works are not scheduled until after 2023, SP Energy Networks transferred the extensive overhead line from Yair Bridge to a more resilient one in Peebles to reduce further outages.

But a series of power cuts during the last month sparked ex-community councillor Allan Johnston to press the providers on the “lack of progress” in the town.

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He said at this week’s meeting of Innerleithen and District Community Council: “When the town was first supplied, we were put on to a 22kV supply, which was state-of-the-art at the time. However, things have moved on, Innerleithen has stood still, and now the rest of Scotland is on the 33kV system.

“Following a number of power cuts, we got moved onto the supply from the Peebles direction, which seemed to remedy the problem.

“All of a sudden, in the last few weeks, we seem to be having power interruptions daily.

“These are ten second interruptions, but they are sufficient to cause a considerable amount of havoc to electronic equipment and also, with the increasing number of people working from home in the town because of the pandemic, it must be causing quite a lot of difficulty for professional services in the town.”

Despite assurances last year that Innerleithen is at the top of the pile for investment, Mr Johnston fears that energy bosses are going back on their promise.

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“I suggested that we ask SP Energy Network to come back and give us an update,” he said.

“I spoke to Ally Douglas, who is responsible for supply in this area, and he tells me that the investment has been bumped to the next financial period.

“So, it appears that nothing has been done since we spoke to them in 2020, and I don’t know why.

“I think we need an explanation for the lack of investment and the lack of progress in resolving this situation because it just seems to be getting out of hand now.”

A spokesperson for SP Energy networks told the Peeblesshire News this week that the providers would give the community “regular updates” going forward.

They added: “We apologise to customers in the local area for the recent run of short power interruptions.

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“We appreciate the impact these can have and welcomed the opportunity to meet representatives from the Walkerburn and Innerleithen communities to discuss these issues.

“We have taken action over the recent past to resolve a number of local problems caused by trees hitting the overhead line, as well as make other improvements.

“We’re also planning further works in the local area, including strengthening the local electricity network, and we’ve recently installed new smart fault-finding equipment to help identify, and repair any issues quicker.

“We hope this will make a positive difference in the short-term.

“We remain committed to working with the local communities as we take forward our wider investment programme for the future and will provide them with regular updates as we move forward.”

Border Telegraph | News