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Teams from Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) working to restore power to customers in Highlands following Storm Isha

By Val Sweeney

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Teams are working to restore power to homes across the Highlands.
Teams are working to restore power to homes across the Highlands.

Teams from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution are working to restore power to customers in the north of Scotland whose supply has been affected by Storm Isha’s destructive winds.

Affected areas include North Kessock.

Weather conditions were more severe than initially forecast with a very rare red wind warning issued overnight for the north and north-east of Scotland, for the first time since Storm Arwen.

Wind speeds picked up during yesterday afternoon with the strongest gusts at around 3am this morning. Gusts of 80mph and above were widespread, including in Inverness-shire, Caithness and Orkney.

SSEN said its network has generally held up well to the destructive impact of Storm Isha, but the storm-force winds have caused damage to the overhead network where trees and wind-borne debris have come into contact with power lines.

As of 8.45am, it had successfully restored supplies to more than 17,500 customers, with 10,500 properties currently off supply.

Teams worked throughout the night to safely respond to faults and restore power remotely where possible.

Crews of linespeople and tree cutters were deployed at first light to fully assess damage and work to repair and replace power lines.

In preparation for Storm Isha, SSEN enacted its well-established resilience plans, mobilising additional teams and equipment to the main areas which were forecast to be affected.

All available operational resources are being deployed to help get customers reconnected using its own teams and contract partners.

The number of people available to answer customers’ calls and queries has also been increased significantly.

Before the storm-force winds arrived, almost 36,000 people in the north of Scotland region who are on the Priority Services Register were sent details of help and advice.

SSEN expects to make significant progress in restoring power to customers today through automatic switching (the re-routing of the network) and network repairs.

However, due to the widespread damage, and challenges getting to faults because of fallen trees and road closures, full network restoration is not expected today.

As SSEN’s engineers continue to assess the full extent of the damage, updated times of restoration will be provided as soon as possible to allow people who could be off supply for a longer spell to consider making alternative arrangements if they can.

SSEN is continuing to work closely with local resilience partners to co-ordinate welfare arrangements and identify customers who may need additional support.

Andy Smith, operations director at SSEN Distribution, said: “We have been tracking the forecast for Storm Isha for the past week, and given the severity of the winds predicted, we have scaled-up our response appropriately to meet the challenge we’re facing.

"From first light this morning our teams have been carrying out line patrols to assess the full extent of any damage to our network.

"This work will continue through the day, enabling us to target our repairs in the right location and provide our customers with estimated restoration times." The latest information will be displayed on the Power Track app.

"I’d like to reassure everyone we are doing everything we can to restore power as quickly and safely as possible," Mr Smith said.

"We’re working closely with resilience partners to support our customers’ welfare. I’d also encourage anyone who may need additional support to contact our dedicated teams on our power cut helpline, 105."

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