Electricity flood defences stepped up in emergency planning exercise

Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD) engineers have undertaken a one-day emergency planning exercise in South Oxfordshire to ensure the electricity network is as resilient as possible in the face of any flooding that may hit the south of England this winter.

The day saw the electricity distributor for Oxfordshire beefing up the flood protection surrounding its local substations and ensuring staff are well rehearsed in using its state of the art, mobile flood defence equipment in preparation for heavy rainfall.

With the north of England and Scotland having received a battering from Storm Frank, and much of the rest of the country braced for possible bad weather in weeks to come, SEPD held the emergency planning day as part of a programme of storm and flood resilience activities.

Stuart Hogarth, Director of Customer Operations for SEPD, explains: “We have invested £145 million over the past year to make our network more resilient against the elements, including installing innovative equipment that detects temporary faults, such as flying debris interfering with our overhead lines. We have also raised some of the transformers, those most at risk of flooding, higher off the ground in our substations. In addition to that we have spent £20 million on tree cutting to prevent trees coming into contact with our lines and causing a power cut during heavy winds, and have invested more than £1 million in flood defence equipment. This includes a state of the art modular system that can be mobilised to where it is most needed and set up in a matter of minutes.

“This flooding response rehearsal exercise is just one more activity to help us ensure that we are as prepared as we possibly can be for the worst that nature can throw at us.”

SEPD continually monitors the weather and forecasts storms 8-10 days in advance. Whilst it is impossible to tell exactly what challenges each unique weather event will bring, the company uses modelling tools to predict where faults are most likely to occur, allowing resources to be mobilised to areas most likely to be affected before the bad weather hits.

In addition to making the network more resilient to extreme weather, SEPD has also invested heavily in customer communications and welfare services to ensure customers are kept updated and have access to additional support if the power does go off for a prolonged period. Its website (www.ssepd.co.uk), Twitter (@SouthernElectricPD) and Facebook (/SouthernElectricPD) channels are constantly updated with the latest information during storms, and Customer and Community Advisors provide face-to-face advice and support to those with special requirements who are registered on its Priority Service Register. It also has a fleet of welfare vans that can provide hot food, drinks and charging facilities during an extended power cut.


Image: The state of the art, mobile flood defence equipment can be set up within minutes as and where needed.