Electricity regulator Ofgem says it will be unable to send a representative to a public meeting in Rothesay this week to address local concerns about the reliability of Bute’s power supply.
Hannah Nixon, Ofgem’s ‘Senior Partner, Smarter Grids and Governance (Distribution)’, wrote to Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid on November 22 to say the regulator would not be represented at the meeting, taking place at Rothesay Pavilion on Friday, November 30 at 1pm.
But Ms Nixon’s letter still contained some good news for the island, courtesy of the announcement that Ofgem intends to make minimum performance standards for distribution network operators (DNOs) applicable to the Highlands and Islands for the first time.
That was one of the key shortcomings identified by Mr Reid and his colleagues on the House of Commons’ Scottish affairs committee in their report on the January power cuts and their aftermath, published in August and launched in Rothesay to a rather underwhelming response at an event attended by only one person - The Buteman’s reporter, Karen Keith.
This Friday’s meeting, rather better publicised than that August launch, will be attended by three employees of the local DNO, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) - operations manager Neil Wilson, central wayleave manager Shona Horn and performance manager Mo MacDougall.
Mr Reid said: “Following last January’s power cuts, I asked the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee to mount an inquiry into how best to stop future storms causing power cuts on the scale that we had witnessed.
“The Committee made recommendations as to how the grid could be made more robust. The purpose of Friday’s meeting is to hear from SHEPD what they’ve done over the past year to reduce the risk of power cuts the next time we are on the receiving end of another violent storm.
“The Council will also be there to explain the improvements they’ve made to their emergency plan in the light of last year’s experiences.”
Friday’s meeting will also be attended by Inspector Gordon Anderson, Strathclyde Police’s senior officer on Bute.