Storm Arwen’s impact on power network ‘unprecedented’, Matheson says

The Energy Secretary said the number of faults was three times higher than recorded during the Beast from the East in 2018.

Neil Pooran
Tuesday 30 November 2021 12:07
Storm Arwen left thousands of homes without power (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Storm Arwen left thousands of homes without power (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The impact of Storm Arwen on the power network has been “unprecedented”, Energy Secretary Michael Matheson has said.

The Scottish Government minister said the number of faults across the network was around three times higher than in the Beast from the East in 2018.

Storm Arwen knocked out electricity supplies to thousands of homes over the weekend, with at least 17,000 homes enduring a fourth night without power on Monday.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks remained at red alert status for the north of Scotland on Tuesday morning.

Mr Matheson appeared before Holyrood’s Net Zero Committee on Tuesday to discuss the government’s fuel poverty strategy.

At one point there were 500 failures in the power network (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked him about the plans to replace gas and oil heating with electrically-powered heat pumps.

He said: “What contingency planning would be done such that if everyone were to move to electric-powered heating, that if we have the catastrophe that we’ve had over the last few days, they’re not left freezing in houses in rural areas?”

Mr Matheson said in the wake of major events utility companies would be expected to minimise any future power losses.

He said: “I think we have to reflect on the fact that the level of faults and difficulties which have been experienced across the network is unprecedented.

“I’ve heard over the course of the last few days – I think it’s three times the number of faults experienced during the Beast from the East.

“At one point we had over 500 faults in the system.”

The minister said district energy systems, where heating is provided to a number of properties in an area, would provide greater resilience.

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