Flooding brings challenges to SSEN’s early completion of Chichester upgrade project

Upgrade works by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to improve and strengthen the resilience of Chichester’s electricity infrastructure are now due to be completed by mid-April after recent flooding caused part of the works to be postponed.

The £650,000 investment for the West Sussex cathedral city’s network was due for full completion by the end of March, but as heavy rains have flooded some of the trenches housing the new underground cables, SSEN engineers have had to reschedule this final part of the project to build a strong and resilient power supply for the area’s 27,000 customers.

The programme of improvement works in Chichester has already seen the upgrade of existing electrical equipment, including three substations, and the refurbishment of the majority of the underground cable network. 

SSEN’s Project Lead, Graham Humpston explains said: “Since the start of this project, we have worked closely with the communities, agencies and authorities in Chichester to ensure the minimum of disruption to homes and businesses as we upgrade the city’s network.

“In any project, there will be challenges to overcome and, in this case, it has been the unusually high rainfall we’ve had in the south east over the last few months. Safety, of both our colleagues and customers, is always our priority and in this instance, we need to postpone the completion of this project – for a short time only – to maintain our safest working practices.”

He added: “I’d also like to reassure anyone who may have been concerned that the city’s Yorkshire slate and decorative pavements near to the works had been covered over with a tarred surface. This is a temporary measure to protect the tiles and slate during the works, and following the completion of the upgrade, will be reinstated exactly as they were before we commenced the works.

“Again, I’d like to thank Chichester’s residents and business owners for their patience and support while we carry out the remainder of this project.”

Network reliability is a key priority for SSEN and the customers its serves. Following a series of engagements with its customers SSEN took the decision to make the investment in Chichester to further improve network resilience, and future-proof its infrastructure for customer’s changing demands. This is part of SSEN’s commitment to taking a “you said, we did” approach to investing in its vital infrastructure. 

While SSEN does not anticipate any interruptions to the power supply during the remaining ten weeks of these works, it is aware that people can feel vulnerable when their electricity goes off, especially during severe weather and customers can join the Priority Services Register if they:  

  • Are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Have a disability
  • Live with children under five
  • Are blind or partially sighted
  • Have a chronic illness
  • Use medical equipment/aids reliant on electricity
  • Are over 60

By registering for SSEN’s PSR, customers will be proactively contacted to warn them of potential bad weather to help them prepare and to offer extra support where required. SSEN’s teams will also keep in close and regular contact with its PSR customers during network outages to check they are getting the help they need.    

To find out more about the PSR, click here, or call 0800 294 3259. For more information on all the support available from SSEN, and for helpful advice on preparing for and dealing with a power cut, please visit ssen.co.uk/ready-together.