The contract to build a sub-sea energy interconnector cable between Lewis and the
mainland is virtually likely to have missed its crunch deadline date of July 1st.
It seriously risks killing off progress of holding back the planned underwater link
for three years.
The July date was important as it gave the last opportunity of a confident timescale
to manufacture the submarine cable and get it laid on the seabed within a designated.
Each passing day means the proposed schedule to construct the interconnector is
If the delay lasts longer than another two months or so then the whole contract procurement
is likely to have to start all over again.
The consequence means freezing any windfarm building in the Western Isles and would
also delay the development of coastal wave energy schemes planned for the islands.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) which is the monopoly operator of the national
grid in North Scotland said it as yet to lodge a revised needs case, which looks
at the economics and business demand for the link.
The go-ahead of the energy cable hinges on regulator Ofgem awarding approval of SSE’s
business needs case.
SSE is concerned that the high transmission charges which effectively penalises energy
developments the further away from the main electricity markets in the south could
cause developers to pull out of planned windfarms and consequently decline to underwriting
the sub-sea cable.
A SSE spokesperson said that since “we had not received a clear policy statement
from Ministers by the end of April, it was unlikely that we would be in a position
to place the cable contract on 1 July.”
“We are currently awaiting the publication of the consultants' report which was prepared
for the Steering Group, looking at the issue of affordability.”