Southern Electric £13.5m pledge to make network more “robust” after spate of power cuts hits residents

Bournemouth Echo: WORKING: Engineers repair a power line WORKING: Engineers repair a power line

DORSET residents who have been experiencing power cuts are being reassured that major investment is being made to avoid them.

There has been a spate of power losses around the conurbation and wider county in recent months and Southern Electric Power Distribution says it is ramping up its efforts to keep the lights on during the winter.

The company says it is spending £90 million this year to upgrade and maintain its network in central southern England to make it “as robust as possible”, with around £13.5 million spent on projects around Dorset to maintain and upgrade parts of the network.

Major electricity substations at Parkstone South, Canford and Hinton Martell, near Wimborne, have been the subject of £600,000 investment programmes to install new transformers and state-of-the-art ‘switchgear’.

It said that upgraded technology enabled its central control room to operate electricity circuits remotely and isolate faults more rapidly, improving the speed at which power is restored after a cut.

Darren Hall, operations manager at SEPD’s Poole depot, said: “Our goal is to keep the lights on 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, but sometimes events outside our control, such as bad weather, can lead to power cuts.

“When this happens, our first priority is to get the electricity back to normal as quickly as possible and our staff will work around the clock to do that.

“We have invested millions in making our network more robust and have also made a real effort over recent years to make it easier for customers to access information and communicate with us.”

Other measures include dual-fuse systems on some circuits, which provide immediate back-up when fuses fail.

It has also installed 80km of overhead electricity lines and upgraded underground cabling in a £40,000 project to benefit businesses at Hamworthy Industrial Estate.

SEPD said engineers based at Poole were also putting plans into place to make sure that if blizzards, storms or flooding hit the south and cause power cuts, electricity supplies will be restored as quickly and as safely as possible.

 If severe weather does hit and customers find themselves without electricity, the 24hr emergency contact number for them to call is 08000 72 72 82.

SEPD is also urging customers who may be elderly, disabled or need power for medical equipment such as a ventilator, dialysis machine or stairlift, to call its dedicated 24hr Priority Services team on 0800 294 3259 so they can be added to the Priority Services Register.

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