UK probes National Grid and ScottishPower over undersea cable

National Grid and ScottishPower, the UK arm of Spain’s Iberdrola, are under investigation by Britain’s energy market watchdog over the delivery and operation of a giant £1.3 billion subsea power cable to carry surplus electricity from Scottish wind farms to England and Wales.

The joint project, which was billed at the time as the world’s largest subsea interconnecting power cable, was originally due to be completed in late 2015 but electricity did not start flowing through until December 2017. Even then, the project was not fully operational and suffered outages. It did not start operating without restrictions until December last year.

Ofgem said on Tuesday that it would “review the performance” of National Grid and ScottishPower — the UK arm of Spain’s Iberdrola — in delivering the cable, which runs from west coast of Scotland to the north coast of Wales, and whether they breached their operating licences through the late completion of the scheme. The regulator said it would also “examine potential breaches relating to the operation of the cable”.

The project has attracted negative press over recent years due to the cost to consumers of the delays and wind farms in Scotland receiving payments to switch off until the cable was delivered.

The Western Link involved laying 850 kilometres of high voltage cable, 770km of which runs undersea.


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