Our retained colleagues help to keep the power flowing

Living and working on the remote island of Jura, located off the west coast of Scotland, Ross Rozga is a full-time gamekeeper who also plays a vital role in SSEN’s commitment to keeping the power flowing for his local community.

Ross is part of SSEN’s army of ‘retained colleagues’, fully trained members of staff who live and work in some of the most remote communities in the country, and who also have a ‘day job’ away from the company. For Ross, this sees him combine management of the deer and forestry on one of Jura’s seven estates, with work on the island’s electricity network, assisting with proactive maintenance and investment, and providing immediate response during a power cut. 

With a current population of around 210, Ross explains more about life and work on Jura:

“Island life means that lots of people in our community wear ‘multiple hats’ and we recognise it is important that essential roles, like the one I have with SSEN, are covered by local people. My employers understand the importance of this and allow me the flexibility to do both. I’ve always been really community-focussed, I like being involved, and in the past I’ve also been part of the local Coastguard and Fire Brigade services. 

“I’ve been with SSEN for four years, and my ‘day job’ as a gamekeeper sees me out and about in all weathers and so it gives me a good grounding for the work I do with SSEN, especially if I’m helping colleagues during the types of storms we get here in the winter.” 

As a Jura resident himself, Ross appreciates just how important it is to have a safe, secure and reliable electricity supply, and so the work he does with SSEN carries an extra resonance:

“Because of our close-knit community spirit, you get an extra sense of pride in the work you do, as you can see first-hand the difference it can make. In the last year I’ve been involved in SSEN’s £1m project to upgrade the overhead network on the island, and that’s something that I’m really proud to have been a part of.”

Amongst the many challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented Ross and his fellow residents on Jura, two of the main ones have been the limiting of ferry services to and from the mainland, and the restricted access to the island itself.

“Safety has always been SSEN’s number one priority,” explains Ross, “and even though coronavirus lockdown restrictions are easing slightly, the safety of our customers, employees and contractors is still our main focus.  In addition to enhanced safety and hygiene measures to keep everyone safe as we work, we are closely following Government guidance and strictly adhering to social distancing measures.”

Recognising the importance of retained staff, Ross Fenton, Head of SSEN’s South Caledonia region, says: 

“Our retained colleagues play a key role in keeping the power flowing across some of the most remote communities in our region and the wider country.  The fact that these key members of our team, such as Ross, are already living in their island communities has been a real positive and a benefit throughout the last few months, as we all focus on limiting travel and the potential spread of coronavirus.

 “As residents themselves, our retained colleagues’ local knowledge is invaluable, helping to influence our investment programmes and pro-actively reducing the risk of power cuts.  Storms not only have the potential to damage our equipment and cause power cuts, they can also disrupt and hamper travel to remote locations by our teams based on the mainland, and so having retained colleagues ‘on the ground’ in these places can make a world of difference in our ability to restore our customers’ supplies when the weather turns bad.”

The above photo shows Ross with his trusty companion Calli, alongside part of the local overhead network which has recently been upgraded.

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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