Power operator thanks Borderers for their patience during Storm Ali

Lilliesleaf is just one of the many rural Borders communities which were left with scenes of devastation as trees toppled and power lines were cut following the wrath of Storm Ali last Wednesday.
Lilliesleaf is just one of the many rural Borders communities which were left with scenes of devastation as trees toppled and power lines were cut following the wrath of Storm Ali last Wednesday.

More than 11,000 Borders homes experienced some kind of power interruption during the battering administered to the region by Storm Ali last Wednesday (September 18).

During the storm, widespread damage was caused to power lines as hundreds of trees were uprooted in severe wind gusts of over 80mph, and Scottish Power’s

Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN), which operates the electricity transmission and distribution network in the region, was certainly kept busy during the storm, as well as in the aftermath.

More than 600 people worked on the storm response, including 100 engineers who travelled up from the north of England and Wales, which were not so badly hit, and the operator said it was able to restore power supplies to the majority of homes before the end of Wednesday.

The recovery work on Thursday and Friday involved some very complex and time consuming repairs. Most of the faults encountered involved tree cutting, replacement of broken poles and fallen power lines.

Fault locations were also difficult to access due to road closures and hundreds of fallen trees.

SPEN also said that customer service teams were in contact with people who were off supply for an extended time to offer additional support, including generators and hot food.

The Red Cross also supported the response, visiting around 100 vulnerable customers to issue support packs.

Guy Jefferson, customer service director at SP Energy Networks, said that the fact that most trees still have their leaves was one of the main reasons so many came down.

He said: “This is the worst September storm to hit our network in a very long time.

“Severe winds in late summer can be more problematic than a winter storm.

“Even though we can see higher wind speeds later in the year, we have never seen so many trees come down.

“With the leaves still in full bloom, the wind basically dragged the trees out of the ground, snapping our poles and bringing down wires.

“We would like to thank customers for their patience and for the good nature they showed to our engineers and customer service teams.

“Our teams worked tirelessly to get supplies back up and running as quickly as possible.

“Some of the network was very badly damaged, and our engineers will be carrying out further patrols and permanent repair work over the course of this week.”