SSEN teams work to ensure Scalpay network is winter-ready

Working on an island with no visitor accommodation, having to commute to site every day on a landing craft and enjoying some of Scotland’s most breath-taking scenery at the same time were just some of the features of SSEN’s recent upgrade and maintenance work on Scalpay, near Skye.

To make sure the island’s 5km of electricity network was ready for winter, 16 SSEN staff, including members of the tree-cutting and overhead lines teams, went to Scalpay to carry out a two week-long refurbishment of the local infrastructure that delivers power to the island’s eight residents.

The teams focussed on three main areas of work, all of which would make electricity supply on the island more robust and resilient, as well as reducing the potential for power cuts:


  • Cutting away branches that had grown too close to the electricity lines
  • Replacing three wooden poles that carry the overhead lines
  • Undergrounding 400m of Low Voltage overhead line which had previously been damaged by high winds
  • Replacing the orignal pole-mounted transformers

Roddy MacPherson is based at SSEN’s Kyle of Lochalsh Depot and led the project which, given the location, came with its own unique set of challenges:

“Getting to Scalpay isn’t as straightforward as other places in our Highlands and Islands region, as there is no regular ferry service; the fact that we had to not only get our colleagues there and back but we also needed to have all our vehicles and equipment with us made the task that little bit trickier! Thankfully we were able to secure the services of a local shipping company for the fortnight and so we based ourselves at Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland and commuted back and forwards every day.

“Given the difficulty of getting back and forward we wanted to make the best use of the transport and accommodation we had secured, and in total we were able to clear trees and vegetation away from 1.2 km of overhead line, replace three wooden poles and underground 400m of the LV network, all of which will go a long way to improving the supplies to Scalpay’s residents this winter and for many years to come.”

To watch a short video the teams as they travelled over to Scalpay, please click on the above image.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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