Leading article: Power surge

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The Independent Online

Have you ever experienced a power cut? If the answer is yes you will doubtless feel a pang of sympathy for the 87 residents of the Isle of Eigg. The inhabitants of the tiny Hebridean island have been in the midst of a power cut for more than a century now.

The mains electric revolution of the late 19th century never reached Eigg. It was always too expensive to lay a power cable under the sea from the mainland. If the residents wanted to do anything requiring power, from watching television to turning on a light, they had to use expensive, dirty, diesel generators.

But the electric age is finally about to dawn on Eigg. The island's residents have had a whip round and, with the aid of a grant from the European Union regional development programme, have acquired a solar, wind, and hydroelectric power generating station. The system was due to be switched on before Christmas but was delayed because of bad weather and technical problems. The "on" switch is due to be flicked any day now.

Not only will the residents be able to bask in unfamiliar creature comforts, the source of their power will be impeccably environmentally friendly. No fossil fuels will be burned to provide the islanders with electricity. All their power dubbed "Eiggtricity" will be renewable.

So in one giant leap, Eiggers have gone from lacking a technology that defines the modern age, to possessing one that the rest of us are still struggling to develop. It is an inspiring example. Or should that be Eiggsample?

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