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pipelayingSouthern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) has this week commenced Phase One of its £13m project to renew one of the three High Voltage cables between Isle of Wight and the mainland.

On completion of this project, the new cable and two existing High Voltage cables will all be ‘state of art’ and buried in the sea bed. The project is being carried out ‘behind the scenes’ and engineers will not need to turn off customers’ supplies as they go about their essential tasks.

Chandra Trikha, Head of Capital Project Delivery for SEPD explains:

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“We want to provide our customers with the best possible service and the installation of this new cable will help us achieve this. The new cable will make the electricity network to Isle of Wight more robust and less prone to external damage by anchors and marine actions which, in turn, reduces the risk of power cuts.

“At present, we have three subsea cables between the island and the mainland two of them are buried beneath the seabed. This new cable will replace the third cable, which is presently laid on the seabed, where it has been damaged by boats’ anchors and movement due to marine action. This means that on completion of the project, all of the island’s electricity supplies will be provided by subsea cables which are securely located out of harm’s way.”

Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP welcomes the increased network resilience the project will bring:

“As an island community, having a strong, reliable supply of electricity is vital to us all, whether it’s for work or at home and so I’m pleased to see that Southern Electric Power Distribution is investing in making the local network as robust as possible.”

The project will be carried out on behalf of SEPD by contractor VolkerInfra, a specialist in carrying out submarine cable crossings. Work will be completed in two key stages, with this current one lasting approximately 8 weeks, and the second phase which will run from Spring to October next year.

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Last month SEPD teams created the site compound and access roads at Thorness Bay on the island, ahead of the arrival of the specialised ‘horizontal directional drill (HDD)’ rig earlier this week, which will be used to create the 900m trench for the ducting to house the new cable.

Chris Smith, SEPD Project Manager explains more about the timescales for the £13m project:

“We’ve now started working on the trench which will be home to the cable ducting that will protect the local seabed and marine life around the island. Once that is complete, we expect the installation of the ducting to be finished by the end of November, and this will signal the end of Phase One of the project.

“Phase Two will begin in Spring next year, and this is mainly to allow for the construction of the highly specialised new cable and also to allow for the environmental constraints associated with working in the Solent. We expect this second phase of the project, as well as the switch-over from the existing cable, to be completed by October 2014.”

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