black transmission towers under green sky

Letter to SSEN – no progress on the 2 new transformers + recent power cuts

Dear Donna,


Thank you for your email of 6th June which once again fails to address the questions we were asking.  West Challow is still waiting for a firm date for the installation of the 2 new transformers and assurance that we will have an electricity supply fit for the 21st century.


You say that there have been “no further voltage issues”.  The reason there have been no problems with the temporary 315kVA transformer which currently successfully serves the whole village is that the 3 phases are reasonably balanced in terms of the electricity supplied by each phase to the whole village.  Using your data from early 2021 (which did not cover the peak demands around the Christmas period) the maximum electricity demands on the 3 phases were:


Phase Max Amps    % total load

Red               452                      37.8%

Yellow              401                  33.5%

Blue              344                      28.7%

Total   1,197                100%


However on the 4th July, West Challow was hit by an unplanned power cut due to the overhead distribution lines which supply electricity to the village from the A417 coming down.  This failure happened after the point where our electricity supply turns right and the distribution line continues southwards.  We were without power for about 4.5 hours.  Also 24 homes experienced a shorter power cut yesterday evening (9 July) to fix a local distribution problem within the village which had left several homes without electricity.  The 4th July incident is relevant to our later point about the 2 replacement transformers for the village, as indeed was the case when a distribution power line came down in the field on 30th November 2021.


The West Challow supply imbalance problem was first identified in 2018 when the local electricity distribution wooden poles were being replaced.  In November 2018, Lucy Anderson (Customer Relationship Manager for Ridgeway SSEN) sat in our dining room and explained to us and neighbour Barrie Hunt that the reason the whole village had endured three power cuts during this replacement period was because the temporary generator which was supplying the whole village kept tripping out.  This was due to the imbalance of the 3 phases with the red phase providing nearly 50% of the total village electricity supply.  She said such imbalances reduced the effectiveness of the transformer and SSEN solved the problem by increasing the capacity of the temporary generator a further 2 times before the transformer capacity was sufficient to cope with the phase imbalance.


All of us present at that meeting with Lucy were given the impression that SSEN would be addressing this problem in the near future.  Clearly nothing happened as the following Christmas period 2019 had multiple power cuts on the red phase on 7 different days; SSEN eventually solved this problem by increasing the size of the fuse on the red phase several times.  Since then, SSEN have shifted some of the red phase load, created 2 separate circuits to provide electricity to the village and replaced the previous 200 kVA with a temporary 315 kVA transformer.  You confirmed that the overhead line at maximum demand (again measured during the non-festive season) continues to supply nearly 50% of the total electricity supplied on the red phase.  Given what SSEN said to us in November 2018 and we still have a similar imbalance  as in 2018, we remain concerned about future electricity supply being maintained at peak demands.


We note the continued slow progress in attaining way leave replacement for the two new 200 kVA transformers which are to replace the 315 kVA transformer.  Some thinking outside the box would be welcome to speed this up.


We ask that SSEN can rapidly respond to our concerns with evidence as to why the red phase on the overhead line should not repeat the November 2018/ Christmas 2019 experiences again and provide firmer information on when the 2 new transformers will be in place.


We are approaching the 5th anniversary of our electricity supply problem to West Challow first being identified and still have no times for resolution or the assurance that West Challow will be equipped to meet the future growth in electricity demand from heating moving from oil to heat pumps and a large increase in electric vehicles in the village.  Without these commitments, your West Challow customers will be forced to take the matter to a higher political and/or regulatory level.



Jean & Eoin Lees