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ScottishPower Energy Networks Outlines £5.2 Billion Investment In The Distribution Network To Drive Improved Service, Creating 2,500 Jobs


ScottishPower Energy Networks (SPEN) has today submitted proposals to Ofgem outlining a £5.2bn investment programme creating 2,500 jobs, which will play a major role in supporting the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy, as well as delivering significant reliability and service improvements and cost reductions for customers.

This multi billion pound investment between 2015 and 2023 will renew and maintain the cables and substations that keep the lights on for over 3.5 million customers in Central Scotland, Merseyside and North & Mid Wales. ScottishPower Energy Networks currently manages 105,000km of power cables and 30,000 substations in these areas, many of which were originally installed between the 1950’s and 1970’s, and are approaching the end of their operation lives.

This is the largest investment ever in ScottishPower’s distribution network, and compliments the £2.6 billion investment in the transmission network between now and 2021. The investments will lay the foundations for a ‘smart’ network, significantly improving the efficiency of the existing network, improving reliability for consumers and, at the same time, improving customer service. The investment and job creation can be accelerated dependent upon a successful fast track regulatory settlement with Ofgem, who will now consider ScottishPower Energy Network’s proposals.

More than 2,500 jobs will be created across the supply chain during the investment period to undertake the upgrades on the distribution network and the company will invest up to £90m alone on recruitment and training. Together with planned investment in ScottishPower's transmission network, 4,000 jobs will be created in the next decade. To meet this demand, the company is already working with a range of schools, colleges and universities to find the engineers and technicians of tomorrow.

A major focus of the investment will be further reinforcing power lines and substations in rural areas to combat the effects of severe weather. Since the late 1990’s SPEN has rebuilt power lines and cleared trees in strategic locations, helping to reduce power cuts during storms by 75%. ScottishPower currently has 30% fewer interruptions than the UK average and, by 2023, the company will target its investments to reduce the average time customers are off supply by 25%.

The company has engaged with over 2,000 stakeholders in preparing their plans over the past year, which will also set out a range of measures to further improve customer service. From 2015, ScottishPower Energy Networks will double the compensation payments currently recommended by Ofgem for customers’ who experience interruptions in power supply for extended periods.  Any customer who is listed on the company’s Priority Services Register will also receive the offer of accommodation and hot food automatically if they are without power for more than 12 hours during a severe weather event. A new guarantee will also see SPEN pay compensation to any customer where the company does not deliver an agreed action following an enquiry.

The infrastructure upgrades will also support ambitious carbon reduction targets in both Scotland and Wales. The company will undertake reinforcement work 20% earlier than current ‘trigger point’, creating more capacity on the network and allowing faster connection. The installation of new technology will ensure that the electricity networks in these locations will be ‘low carbon ready’ before other areas of the UK. More than £200m will be used to ensure that customers can benefit from low carbon technology.

Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks said "We have a unique opportunity to completely modernise our infrastructure and create a blueprint to support growth for generations to come.

"Millions of homes and businesses in our network areas rely on a safe and secure supply of electricity. Through high levels of maintenance, we currently have reliability on average of more than 99 percent. However, to keep driving improvements and deliver more advanced and smarter infrastructure, which will bring real benefits for customers, we need to invest significantly in our network.

"This £5.2billion investment will create thousands of highly skilled jobs, as we will need a new generation of engineers and technicians to deliver the upgrades. We have already started recruiting and we are also investing in partnerships with educational establishments to encourage more people to benefit from the opportunities in our industry.

"By utilising new technology, we can deliver an even more robust network that improves efficiency, results in fewer and shorter interruptions and supports the generation of low carbon electricity.”

Media Information: Simon McMillan / Paul Ferguson 0141 614 4582 / 07753 622 257

Notes to Editor:

The improvements will include:

  • Inspecting and maintaining 30,000 substations, 65,000km of underground cables and 40,000km of overhead lines including:
    • Completing circa 3.5million asset inspections.
    • Cutting trees away from more than 300,000 spans of overhead lines
    • Clearing trees away from 5,000km of overhead lines
    • Maintaining around 900,000 items of network equipment.
    • Replacing 30 major substations each supplying 19,000 customers
    • Replacing 84 large substations each supplying 3,000 customers
    • Extending the life of 84 large substations each supplying 3,000 customers
    • Replacing more than 2,500 small substations each supplying up to 500 customers.
    • Replacing more than 250,000 services inside customers homes & buildings. 

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