SSEN Distribution’s £10m investment in Argyll’s electricity infrastructure begins this month- a project which will make customers’ supplies more robust, resilient and less susceptible to power cuts, as well as increasing the network’s capacity to help facilitate the rise in EV chargers and heat pumps.

The 18-month project kicks off in early July, with teams working on two overhead lines along an 18km route between Taynuilt and Tullich. This is a vital part of the electricity infrastructure across Argyll, as power from this section of the network supplies the Oban area from where it is distributed via subsea cables to Mull, Coll, Tiree, and neighbouring islands.

Of the two overhead lines, one will be upgraded with new poles and conductors (the actual line itself), with protection equipment also being installed to reduce the potential for power cuts caused by lightning strikes; the second line will be dismantled and replaced with underground cable.

The underground cable being used will have an increased capacity rating, a vital upgrade to ensure the network in Argyll is able to handle the rising demand from customers as they install heat pumps and electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints.

Working in such a remote part of the country has been central to the project’s planning as Tom Bell, SSEN’s Project Manager, explains:

“This project has been years in the planning, and with the route taking in some very remote terrain, one of our main challenges has been the logistics of delivering materials and equipment along the way.

"For the more isolated areas, after careful environmental considerations, we’re going to be using a combination of helicopters and specialist tracked vehicles, ensuring the minimum impact on the local landscape and environment.”

Speaking ahead of the works, Donald MacKinnon, SSEN’s Head of Large Capital Projects, said:

“We’re committed to delivering a safe, secure and reliable power supply for our customers, and this £10m project is a major investment in the network powering our communities from Taynuilt to Tullich, Oban and the islands beyond.

“Not only will the new poles and overhead lines make the network infrastructure more robust and resilient, by increasing capacity in the new cable we’re helping the local communities on the road to net zero as consumers look to install low carbon technologies in their homes.”