Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has learned that some key investment proposals for the Western Isles for the period 2023 to 2028, put forward by SSEN Distribution, have been disallowed by electricity regulator OFGEM in their draft determination of SSEN Distribution’s future business plan.
Historically, Lewis and Harris have been connected to the UK electricity network through a single 33kV subsea cable running from Ardmore in Skye to Stockinish in Harris. This 30 year old cable failed in October 2020 rendering Lewis and Harris totally reliant on local diesel generation for a period of ten months. The impact on community generators was particularly severe as the income used to support services in the community was lost for these ten months. At present, Uist and Barra is supplied through a similar, single 30 year old 33kV cable running from Ardmore in Skye to Lochcarnan in South Uist. The risk of failure of this cable in the short to medium term is high.
In its business plan for the period 2023 to 2028, SSEN Distribution proposed the decommissioning of the existing Skye to Uist cable to be replaced by two new subsea cables, one installed between Ardmore in Skye and Clachan in North Uist and a second installed between Dunvegan in Skye and Lochcarnan in South Uist. In its draft determination of SSEN Distribution’s business plan, OFGEM has disallowed investment in the two new cables and even in replacement of the existing cable. This has clear implications for the resilience of Uist and Barra and means that Renewable Energy development in Uist and Barra will continue to be constrained into the future. The local community is encouraged to respond to OFGEM’s draft determination by emailing RIIOED2@ofgem.gov.uk by Thursday, 25 August 2022.
More detail is available at RIIO-ED2 Draft Determinations | Ofgem (main Draft Determinations document and SSEN Annex) and at RIIO ED2 Engineering Justification Paper (EJP) - Skye - South Uist Asset Replacement. (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)