Storm Heroes

Engineer talk

Earlier this year Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ engineers on the Western Isles participated in a documentary called Storm Heroes, which is to air on Tuesday 15 November on BBC Alba at 8:30pm.

The idea of the programme was to show the hard work and efforts of the first responders and other organisations that, despite the bad weather, do their best to keep the country running and make sure people are safe.

When the production company first approached us to feature in the programme we were hesitant to participate. It didn’t feel right for us to be labelled as ‘heroes’. After all, we are here to keep the power on for our customers regardless of the weather. 

In the end, however, we felt it was right that the hard work and commitment of our engineers should be recognised on the programme. I am glad we took that call as the people who took part were great ambassadors for the company and really gave a sense of the crucial role we play in remote locations.

The programme features our team on the Western Isles, where high winds are not uncommon. Wind speeds of more than 80mph are frequent, and in worst-case scenarios hurricane force winds have been recorded. Tomorrow’s programme features our engineer Murdo MacDonald repairing faults during Storm Henry back in early 2015, where we battled winds up to 90mph. The third episode features Allan MacDonald checking the network in South Uist during Storm Henry – which saw a Force 12 gale batter the island.   

The high wind speeds bring us challenges but our teams are well versed in dealing with these conditions, with many of the team born and raised on the islands – the fact our engineers were able to record the programme in Gaelic is evidence to that.

The series also demonstrates that our support for customers extends beyond just power lines and substations. The fourth programme in the series features Neil MacCormick and Matthew MacDonald who help provide a customer with a generator so his medical equipment can be guaranteed to remain on during a forthcoming storm. This is a service we offer through our Priority Services Register to people across our networks– if you would like more information on this click here.

We work year round to improve the resilience of our electricity network and provide a safe and secure supply of electricity to our customers.  However, it’s in the preparation for winter when we really kick into action. We work with the communities to help them build their resilience plans in the event of a power cut and have recently launched our ‘Get Ready for Winter’ campaign, encouraging our customers to be better prepared for the bad weather.

This programme is a good reminder of the conditions we often face and how we deal with them. It will hopefully reassure you that when the worst of the weather comes, our teams will be doing everything they can to keep your lights on this winter. 

BBC ALBA is available on the following platforms:

  • Sky 142 (UK)
  • Freeview / You View 7 (Scotland only)
  • Virgin Media 161 (UK)
  • Freesat 109 (UK)
  • BBC iPlayer

About the author

Picture of Dale Cargil

Dale Cargill Director of Customer Operations, Scotland

Dale is Director of Customer Operations for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks in Scotland.

Read more articles by Dale Cargill