Providing safe and reliable energy is a 24/7 job, and our team are working hard, round the clock, to keep power flowing.
From generating power at our wind farms and power stations, distributing it around the country, supporting home and businesses and installing vital infrastructure needed by the NHS and other organisations in the coronavirus fight, we’re playing our part.
Our critical workers are on the frontline, working hard to deliver in the UK and Ireland, so everyone else can stay safe and stay at home. Here, we’re sharing how our own SSE heroes are helping the fight in their own, individual ways.
Following a return to UK national lockdown SSE and its committed employees remain focused on the safe and reliable delivery of the electricity and infrastructure on which we all depend.
All employees who can work from home are doing so, and, where work cannot be done from home, we’re continuing to operate in line with jurisdictional guidance, to help keep our employees and communities safe.
Construction work has been cleared to continue and we have in place rigorous safety measures across all of our sites. You can read more about the steps we are taking in our Covid-19 Risk Assessment here.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said: “Coronavirus continues to present a challenge to society but we are focused on providing the critical national electricity infrastructure on which we all depend and supporting efforts to overcome this virus.
“Our committed employees are working in challenging conditions as they play a key role in the delivery of safe and reliable supplies of electricity, and their safety and that of our customers and the communities we serve continues to be our priority.
As England enters a second national lockdown, SSE and its committed employees are working hard to support the people and organisations leading the coronavirus response, through the safe and reliable delivery of the electricity and infrastructure on which they depend.
All employees who can work from home are doing so, and, where work cannot be done from home, we’re continuing to operate in line with dynamic national and regional restrictions and ensuring that work continues in a way that keeps our employees and communities safe. You can read more about the steps we are taking in our Covid-19 Risk Assessment here.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said:
“Our employees continue to play a critical role in supporting the safe and reliable supply of electricity during the pandemic – as well as delivering vital infrastructure projects that will help keep the economy moving. We are proud of the work that they do in challenging circumstances and as this situation evolves we will do everything we can to help communities, customers and wider society by providing the energy that they need for today and for the future.”
As we’ve shown over previous weeks, our employees are continuing to deliver critical works to keep the power flowing and support the country in the response to the coronavirus crisis.
One such project is taking place on our patch in the Hampshire in the South of England, where our networks business SSEN is undertaking a £8.4 million programme of works to upgrade and future-proof the power supply for over 10,000 customers in Petersfield and Fernhurst.
These critical works, which were due to start in March, were given permission to restart at the end of May. Here Project Manager Anthony Horne explains more about this vital development.
He said: “As a Project Manager for Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), my role through the coronavirus pandemic has largely remained the same; enabling the planning the facilitation of major cable installation works.
“When the UK lockdown was announced in late March, SSEN was about to start the work on the Petersfield to Fernhurst Project – which had been six months in the planning – and were ready to complete another major project where we were investing over £7 million to upgrade power supplies between Ascot and Longcross. Both projects were quickly halted to comply with the government’s requirements and to ensure the safety of our customers and colleagues.
“Even without the projects to fully manage, I’ve remained busy throughout the weeks since lockdown began; reorganising the works for when they can start again and catching up on all the accompanying administration tasks.
“Our engineers have now been able to return to Ascot with a smaller construction team, but hope to be able to accommodate a larger team as restrictions are lifted over time and we arrived on site at the Petersfield project in late May
“It’s important to note that while we continue to work hard to keep the power flowing and our projects running, we are very aware of the government guidelines; fully adhering to social distancing, enhanced hygiene and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), and maintaining our one person one van policy, so our staff can stay two metres away from each other at all times.
“I’m proud to be part of the team that helps SSEN build a stronger network for its 3.1 million customers in central southern England and I’m proud of the way that we have been able to alter our working practices to keep our colleagues and customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic.”
While current conditions mean that SSEN is unable to hold any of its previously public engagement events for the project, it will endeavour to keep residents and business owners in the vicinity of the works updated and able to raise any questions they might have through a specially developed project page accessible at https://www.ssen.co.uk/petersfield-fernhurst/.
Yesterday we told how SSE’s networks business Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has awarded over £320,000 to support communities in their response to the coronavirus crisis.
Here SSEN Managing Director, Colin Nicol, talks about the business’ role in empowering communities to tackle the challenges faced during the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past few months, communities across the country have rallied together to protect those most vulnerable from one of the most significant challenges modern society has faced.
Though lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a significant impact on individuals, businesses and communities, and many people continue to feel physically, mentally and financially vulnerable.
At SSEN, we know people are relying on us to keep the power flowing to the 3.8m homes and businesses we serve and the care homes and hospitals that are so critical in our country’s response to the pandemic. However, as we strive to be an ever more responsible and proactive network operator, we knew there was a wider role that we could play, by supporting and empowering communities in their own response to the crisis.
Since its launch in 2015, our Resilient Communities Fund has provided over £2.7 million to 538 local community projects, building resilience and protecting those most vulnerable from severe weather events and emergencies.
As the impact of the pandemic became clear in March, we asked our key stakeholders, independent fund panel members and Stakeholder Advisory Panel to share with us their views about what mattered most to them. The output of these sessions was an overwhelming support for our proposal to repurpose the fund and open it early to specifically support projects that help and protect the vulnerable during this time of need.
I’m delighted that as a result of this approach, we’ve been able to help over 200 communities, from remote and rural islands in the Western Isles to the city of Portsmouth in Hampshire, making over £320,000 available to help community, parish, town and borough councils or their nominated organisations with grants of up to £3,000.
The way in which we have allocated funds this year has ensured that support packages are tailored to the local need. This means we have been able to support those most vulnerable by enabling volunteers to deliver food, medicine and even innovative community befriending schemes tackling social isolation, with other successful projects providing personal protective equipment to the vulnerable and improving community communication.
In Malmesbury, grant-funding will help support a 70-strong volunteer team ensuring essential food supplies and prescription medicine is delivered to those isolating and shielding, and in Winchester, funds are providing vital support to around 100 adults with learning disabilities who live semi-independent lives in the community.
In Hampshire and Surrey, awards will assist The Vine Centre to help those who feel isolated and have no support network, supporting around 1,500 vulnerable individuals and families across Rushmoor, Ash and Tongham.
In Aberdeen, grants are being used to purchase iPads, arts and crafts and PPE, supporting two care homes in Bucksburn and Peterculter whose residents have become isolated and lonely without any contact from visitors.
On the Isle of Barra, Castlebay Community Council is using their grant to support various community organisations offering additional services with a focus on rural isolation, and Dundee City Centre and Harbour Community Council is using their award to support the ‘Dundee Thegither’ project, providing food and medicine to 300-350 people a week, alongside a vital befriending service for people struggling with isolation.
These are just a few examples of the support we’ve been able to provide to over 200 communities through this year’s fund; reaching cities, towns and villages far and wide, helping local efforts to get through this crisis.
As the focus turns to reversing the economic impact of coronavirus, SSEN will have a significant part to play in that process, investing in our networks and technology to power a clean and resilient recovery. It’s vital, however, that this recovery also meets local needs and we will continue to engage and support our communities, building resilience at a local level to help keep our customers and communities safe.
SSE’s networks business Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has awarded over £320,000 to support communities in their response to the coronavirus crisis.
Over 200 communities across central southern England and the north of Scotland have been given the boost by the business’ Resilient Communities Fund.
The fund which was repurposed in March and allocated in early May, goes to community, parish, town and borough councils, and supports local efforts to help those most vulnerable during the pandemic.
The projects range from providing food, materials and PPE, to supporting volunteers and befriending schemes.
Colin Nicol, Managing Director, SSEN, said: “As we play our part in keeping the power flowing to homes, businesses and sites critical to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, we also recognise the significant impact this crisis continues to have on the communities we serve.
“It’s impressive to see how quickly communities rallied together to support those most vulnerable, so I’m pleased our repurposed Resilient Communities Fund will help in their ongoing response, reaching over 200 communities from the Shetland Isles to the Isle of Wight.”
Projects benefiting from the quick turnaround in funds include HIVE Portsmouth. They received £2,000 to provide food and materials to those most vulnerable in the community. Cllr Gerald Vernon Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund for the £2,000 grant given to HIVE Portsmouth to provide food supplies and update leaflets to vulnerable residents through the coronavirus emergency.”
In Scotland, Dundee City Centre and Harbour Community Council received £3,000 for the Dundee Thegither project, which supplies food parcels, medicine and other goods to those in need.
Secretary, Sheena Wellington, said: “City Centre and Harbour Community Council is very pleased to be able to use this money to support the work of Dundee Thegither.”
Avich and Kilchrenan Community Council in Argyll and Bute received £1,550 to provide and deliver food and medicine. Resilience Coordinator Dr Cowley, said: “Due to the spread-out nature of our rural community, drivers logged over 300 miles during the five weeks to the beginning of May. With, as yet, no end in sight for the service, the grant will enable us to cover future fuel costs for our drivers.”
Trossachs Search and Rescue, in Stirlingshire received £1,000 to help set-up a new communications system.
Secretary and call-out organiser, Stuart Ballantyne, said: “Thanks to SSEN, we will be equipped with a state of the art 4G phone system with WiFi so that we, council officers and other community groups can operate more effectively - not only during this pandemic, but during periods of severe weather and at other times of need. It will also enable us to make a defibrillator available for public use at our base.”
SSE has joined a host of other businesses in calling on the government to deliver a coronavirus recovery plan that builds back a more inclusive, stronger and resilient UK economy.
The letter to PM Boris Johnson, coordinated by The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, and including over 200 leading UK businesses, investors and business networks, was published today.
It follows the publication of our own greenprint for recovery, which includes a five-point action plan to the UK Government to meet the twin objectives of helping the economy rebound whilst taking climate action to meet net zero targets.
The letter states: “With the UK facing major economic and social concerns including the risk of high unemployment and rising regional inequality, we believe that an ambitious low carbon growth and environmental improvement agenda can do a lot to address these concerns, as well as make the UK economy better prepared to deal with future shocks such as those related to climate change.”
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said: “We’re pleased to be able to join with other businesses in signing this letter calling on the UK Government to deliver a recovery plan that builds back a more inclusive, stronger and resilient UK economy.
“Its sentiment and aims align perfectly with the asks in our own greenprint for recovery, and we, like many others, stand ready with the required investment and will to play a key role in the UK’s recovery.”
SSE Renewables has today, 29 May 2020, announced a total of £2.15m will be awarded to 23 transformational projects from its Highland Sustainable Development Fund.
The funds will help support communities across the region as they work to recover from the current outbreak.
The Sustainable Development Fund’s application process took place prior to the pandemic, however, in response the fund’s independent panel, responsible for funding decisions, acted quickly to double the amount of funding available.
This swift action has helped to drive much needed funding towards community projects that will help the region ensure it has the infrastructure and capacity to cope during 2020, but also to grow the economy again with facilities and skills that are attractive to tourists and employers in the future.
Given the current emergency, the fund focussed on projects which boost the economy, enhance skills opportunities and protect the heritage of the region. One of the largest economic drivers in the Highlands is tourism, a sector that has been badly affected by the outbreak and this year the fund is awarding over half a million to tourism projects in the Highlands, helping them to recover and grow over the months and years ahead.
Lord Jack McConnell, Chair of the Sustainable Development Fund, said: "These are difficult times for those who live, work and do business in Highland Region. We have supported projects that provide hope for the future with more sustainable communities and jobs. And to make sure these projects happen we will be flexible in working with local organisations to meet the new circumstances."
Successful projects include a £300,000 to Raasay Development Trust to create a community owned hydro system which will be vital to boosting the local economy. Farmer Jones Academy CIC have been awarded £102,000 to provide training and apprenticeship provision which will be vital to support the recovery of local businesses.
Sarah MacKenzie, Director of Farmer Jones Academy CIC said: “With the support from SSE Renewables, we will be able to expand our accredited training portfolio, establish growing hubs and deliver early intervention farming, food and drink masterclasses to schools, community groups and local businesses within the Highlands. Due to the current pandemic, the need for local homegrown produce and talent has never been greater.”
Other projects benefitting from funding include £115,000 to build affordable community housing in Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston, £47,139 towards the creation of a training academy in Inverness and a £174,456 grant to transform Dornoch police station into a community hub.
The leading renewable energy developer and operator has always been co
SSE has today published its greenprint for a cleaner, more resilient recovery from the economic impact of coronavirus.
We have submitted a five-point action plan to the UK Government to meet the twin objectives of helping the economy rebound whilst taking climate action to meet net zero targets.
The report recommends the Government should greenlight billions of pounds of private investment in low carbon infrastructure, committing to a net zero power sector by 2040 and help get the UK on track to meet its climate action commitments.
Targeting 75GW of offshore wind projects, five carbon capture and storage, plus hydrogen power clusters, and giving the go-ahead on plans to regenerate the electricity motorways to transport clean power to more homes and businesses, will help support a return to growth.
A green fiscal rule which properly puts a high price on carbon emissions will incentivise the switch to cleaner power. And making homes more energy efficient, with electric heat networks and a deadline for the demise of the gas boiler, is needed to hit net zero targets.
The Government should also stimulate investment in a world-leading electric vehicle charging network and bring forward the ban on petrol and diesel vehicles to 2030.
We have written to the Prime Minister, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy, Innovation and Skills (BEIS) with a five point “greenprint” to rebuilt the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said: “This moment in time is pivotal on many levels, that’s why now its even more important to double down on climate action. Coronavirus has demonstrated only concerted, focused effort can solve a crisis – and that goes for the climate emergency too.
“We stand ready to invest billions in the coming years and want to play a key role in the UK’s recovery. We are unashamedly biased in promoting practical, deliverable solutions that could help unlock this investment from ourselves and others.
“Our five-point action plan is focused on stimulating growth and investment to leave a legacy of a cleaner, more resilient UK economy for the future.”
With public finances more stretched than ever in the wake of coronavirus, attracting private sector investment and channelling it into the right areas will be vital.
As a UK-listed company with a proud history of developing low-carbon infrastructure – from the hydro power revolution in the 1940s, to building some of the world’s biggest offshore wind farms and electricity networks to support net zero today – SSE is ready to play its part.
Our “greenprint” to build a cleaner, more resilient economy focuses on five priority areas; a net zero power system by 2040, strategic investment, ahead of need, in electricity networks, a clean industrial revolution, leading the charge on electric vehicles and green buildings for green jobs.
This focus – and the go-ahead for projects ripe for investment – is exactly the type of boost the economy and energy sector need to support long-term, sustainable jobs and contribute to UK GDP.
Whilst tackling coronavirus continues to be the national priority – the climate emergency has not gone away and a failure to deal with it could be even greater, says Alistair Phillips-Davies.
He said: “While it is still too early to predict with confidence the full human, social and economic impact of coronavirus, we can say with certainty that significant investment will be needed to rebuild the UK economy in its wake.
“Although not as immediately felt as those from coronavirus, the impacts from a failure to deal with climate change could be even greater - that’s why delivering on the UK’s net zero emissions target by 2050, and 2045 in Scotland, is as important as ever.
“Low-carbon investment is a win-win: providing a vital economic boost, creating skilled, sustainable jobs in all UK regions to support a just transition, improving air quality and building our resilience while also driving progress towards our climate change targets.”
The Greenprint for building a cleaner, more resilient economy is available to download here.
In line with current government guidance, SSE applies a Coronavirus Risk Assessment to its operational activities. In dialogue with our trades unions representatives, this has been updated and builds on the steps taken since the start of the pandemic to keep our colleagues, contactors and the communities that we serve safe during this difficult time. We will continue to review this risk assessment with our workforce and trades unions, and it is likely to develop as we better understand how to live and work alongside coronavirus.
Continuing our focus the critical workers who supporting the safe and reliable supply of electricity during the coronavirus response, we caught up with colleagues at our Great Island Power Station in Co. Wexford, Ireland.
Great Island, in the south east of Ireland, is one of the country’s most-efficient gas-fired power stations, providing vital flexibility to the electricity system.
Owen Cullinane is a production technician at the station, playing an essential role in the control room, where stringent measures have been put in place to keep each other safe, while keeping the lights on.
Owen said: “Since the coronavirus entered our lives, we have made a lot of changes to the way we work, adapting to the latest Government and medical guidelines as they evolve. The station is operated on a shift basis and all handovers are now conducted over the phone to avoid face-to-face contact. Our control room is stocked with hand gels and cleaning sprays to wipe down any equipment and ensure good hygiene practices.
“There has been great support from our management team and other colleagues, who are working remotely at the moment, to ensure we can continue to keep the power flowing. I’m proud to be working as part of a team providing a vital service for the country at this challenging time, and particularly for healthcare workers and others on whose work we all depend.”
Elsewhere at Great Island is Bill Doyle, site Security Supervisor, who explains how his role has changed in recent months.
Bill said:“Naturally there is a dramatic reduction in the number of people coming to the site each day, with only essential workers allowed access. However, in many ways our role has expanded as we now have a key focus on bio-security, in other words preventing the risk or spread of infection at the station.
“Of course, the limited amount of social interaction can be difficult at times. One of the positives I’ve found though is taking time to appreciate the wildlife at the site. I’ve seen cranes, pheasants, kestrels, buzzards, foxes, rabbits, hares, as well as otters at the edge of the water. I’m told the night shift team have spotted owls too.
“We all know the important role Great Island Power Station plays, and it’s really heartening to see everyone on site stringently observing the social distancing and hygiene guidelines. By working together, while staying apart, we can make sure the station continues to provide the energy the country needs throughout this challenging time.”
In the second part of our look at the SSEN distribution control centre for northern Scotland we meet Olivia Houston, to learn more about her role as technical support assistant.
The centre is integral to keeping the electricity flowing, so to minimise the number of key staff that are coming into contact with each other, there’s been quite a few changes, including re-locating some staff to a back-up centre.
Olivia explains more about these changes and how they are affecting her.
She said:“Everyone who can work at home is doing so, and I’m part of the team that has re-located to our back-up distribution control centre, which is located off-site and away from the rest of our colleagues.
“Just as our colleagues in the normal offices are, we’re doing all we can to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe at work. There’s now a lot more space between our individual workstations to maintain social distancing, everything we're touching gets wiped down regularly, and we’re all washing our hands regularly.
“I’m proud to be part of a team that is playing such an important role in keeping the electricity flowing to the nation’s homes, businesses, our key workers and the NHS.”
As part of that Olivia also took time to explain a little more about her role.
She said: “I work alongside our control engineers, who not only monitor the network’s performance day-to-day, they can also remotely operate large parts of it to allow our colleagues in the field to safely carry out maintenance and upgrade works.
“I’m also involved in the programming, testing and commissioning of our tele-controlled plant, which allows our control engineers to respond quickly to faults on the network, restoring power to our customers as safely and as quickly as possible.”
Technology such as the tele-controlled plant makes a real difference on the rare occasions there is a power cut.
Olivia said: “In the past our field staff would have had to visit each section of the network to manually operate the switches and restore power, and while in some cases this is still needed, overall the tele-controlled plant has made such a difference to the service we are able to provide our customers.”
Olivia also works as part of the team responsible for maintaining the live high voltage network diagrams, which are an essential part of keeping everyone safe.
She said: “These provide a ‘real time’ overview of our network on the ground. By using these diagrams, our control engineers and teams out on site can all work together safely. When we turn the power off from the control room, because of these live diagrams, we can do so secure in the knowledge that our colleagues out in the field are able to start work on the network safely, as there will be no electricity going through that particular piece of kit."
As the network operator for northern Scotland, the Distribution Control Centre of our networks business SSEN is playing a critical role in keeping the power flowing in these challenging times.
Martin Taylor is one of the centre’s Shift Leaders and, classed as a key worker, he’s part of the team whose job it is to keep a keen eye on the day-to-day operation of the high voltage network.
In this, the first of our two-part look behind the scenes at the Distribution Control Centre, Martin talks us through what a normal day is like.
He said:“As you’d probably expect, there are a lot of big screens with maps, diagrams and sounding alarms here in the Control Centre, and every one of these allows us to keep an eye on the electricity as it flows across the overhead lines and underground cables to the substations that power our homes and businesses.
“Our teams are here 24/7, and as well as monitoring the day-to-day flow of electricity we also play an important role on the rare occasions there is a power cut. Modern technology allows us to quickly and safely re-route the majority of the customers’ supplies to different parts of the network, helping to get their electricity back on as quickly as possible. Using network diagrams, maps and alarms, we can also operate a number of devices here in the Control Centre which turn the power on and off, helping us to isolate the section of the network where the fault is located.”
Working with other colleagues who are liaising with customers during a power cut is also an important part of work in the Control Centre, explains Martin.
He said: “We’re in constant contact with our colleagues in the Customer Contact Centre, not only to help them co-ordinate the work of the engineers who are getting restoring supplies, but also to provide updates as to when our customers can expect to see their power back on.”
The coronavirus guidelines have meant several changes made to the way teams are working.
Martin said: “The most radical change has seen us relocate some staff to our back-up Distribution Control Centre, which is off-site and away from our normal location, and a third our staff are now working there until Government guidelines advise otherwise.
“Also, to limit the number of key staff coming into contact with one another, everyone who is able to do their work from home is now doing just that.
“While I’m still based in our usual office, the way we work is also very different to ensure that we are keeping safe and maintaining social distancing. We’ve re-organised the workspace so there’s now always at least one empty desk between each member of the team, everything we touch is regularly wiped down, and it goes without saying that we’re washing our hands more regularly than ever.”
Martin praised the strong team spirit, which has built up over the years working shift patterns, as a great asset.
He said: “Even though a lot of us won’t see each other for a while, we still all keep in touch through the team WhatsApp and we get regular updates with our Skype meetings. It’s undoubtedly a worrying time, but everyone is doing their bit to stay safe and, as a key worker, I’m proud to be part of a team that is helping to keep the power flowing 24/7.”
Energy firm SSE has distributed more than £550,000 to community groups in just six weeks since it confirmed its £1 million coronavirus response to support communities.
Grants from its SSE Renewables and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) businesses have been rapidly repurposed and turned around with more than half the money awarded to voluntary organisations fighting the impact of the outbreak.
Community groups, local businesses and charities from Caithness in the far north of Scotland to Camberley in England and Coribb in Ireland have benefited to help the most vulnerable or support residents struggling.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said community groups knew best how to quickly get help to those who need it the most. He said: “Local communities are so impressive in how they’ve rallied and established response projects so quickly, and our in-house team have worked with them to treble our normal rate of grant giving in just six weeks.
“This immediate response to this unprecedented public health emergency is one thing but we know the road to recovery is going to be a long one. SSE’s model for sharing the economic value of its investments with local places will prove to be even more critical in helping local communities and their economies bounce back in the medium term and we’ll be looking at how we adapt our community funds to stimulate recovery activity going forward.”
Projects already benefiting from the quick turnaround funds include Lanarkshire voluntary body, Covey Befriending which has received £36,907 to help support vulnerable young people and their families during the coronavirus outbreak. Dunbeath and District Centre in Caithness has received £10,000 to deliver hot meals, shopping and prescriptions to people who have self-isolated. The Feldy-Roo food delivery service in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, who received £47,300 to help with food and essential supply deliveries to over-70s and other vulnerable groups, as well as going towards vital PPE for staff.
And the Ice and Fire gin distillery near Latheron, Caithness was awarded over £9,000 to produce 2,000 litres of hand sanitiser through the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm linked fund. This is being sent out free to community groups involved in the coronavirus response, including front-line services and vulnerable individuals. Jacqueline Black, of Ice and Fire Distillery said: "Covid-19 is not going away any time soon so I think that using hand sanitiser is going to be a part of daily life, and the ability to give it to people free is fantastic. “Without the financial aid and support from the local panel of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm fund, this project would not have been possible.
"Their support was the catalyst for all the other agencies coming on board to provide a truly triple-helix approach to the project. This really shows how the local community can benefit from the fund and how vital the fund is at a time like this.”
SSE’s Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks business is making grants of £3,000 available to community, parish and town councils in the north of Scotland and central southern England through its SSEN Resilient Community Fund. It will be distributing its awards throughout May.
And in Ireland, the funds have already helped support access to telephone and broadband services for the most vulnerable, meals on wheels deliveries, food and even craft packs for those self-isolating at home with children.
More information and a full list of the funds and projects can be found here.
For information on SSE’s Community Funds click here
With the country on lockdown and a large number of people working from home, our network’s business Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is prioritising critical work to ensure a safe and secure supply of electricity.
Ross Mitchell, is one of two Faults Managers in SSEN’s North Caledonia region – covering towns and cities across the mainland of north east Scotland including Aberdeen, Braemar and Peterhead as well as remote village communities in the Cairngorms.
As part of the Supply Restoration team, designated as key workers by Government, they are ready to respond to any faults that may develop
Here he talks more about his role and the changes they have made to keep everyone safe.
He said: “It’s my job to ensure that if there is a power cut our staff are out on site as soon as possible, to first of all make sure everything is safe and then do all they can to get the power back on for our customers. I also co-ordinate our teams’ response to any calls we receive from members of the public reporting damage to our equipment.
“I’m normally based in the main Aberdeen Depot which is a real hive of activity, buzzing with colleagues going about their work. But now, everyone who can work at home is now doing so, and that includes myself.
“These past few weeks were quite strange to begin with as I’m used to having a lot of other people around when I’m working, but I’ve now got used to it and it’s helped that from day one everyone in the team has appreciated why this new way of doing things is so important.
“I’ve got my work laptop set up at home so I can use the same system as our colleagues in the Customer Contact Centre and our Distribution Control Room; that’s what we use to log and then monitor any faults coming in, it’s got all the information I need to send the right people for each job and it’s a centralised record of everything that is going on with that particular job.
“It’s a worrying time for us all, and the new way of working does bring its own set of challenges, but it’s been fantastic to see the way our team is rallying together to make sure everything continues to be done safely.
“With all of the hospitals and health centres across our region relying on electricity, as well as everyone staying at home doing their bit as part of lockdown, I’m proud to be a critical worker helping to keep the electricity flowing to all our customers.”
Across our business people are giving up their free time to support their communities during the coronavirus crisis.
James Williamson, based at Clunie Power Station in Perthshire, is a Renewables Engineer in SSE Renewables, he looks after some of the maintenance and refurbishment projects across our hydro generation fleet.
During the outbreak, he has been using his spare time to 3D print face shields for frontline workers across the country. Here he talks about his efforts.
It’s fair to say I’ve always been passionate about engineering and finding out how things worked. I joined SSE around four years ago as part of their Graduate Engineer scheme and since then I’ve been based in SSE Renewables’ hydro business.
The average age of our hydro fleet is around 65 years old, but we are constantly working to ensure that it continues to help meet the energy requirements of today as Britain’s biggest battery. My job is to project manage the maintenance and refurbishment of some of these incredible power stations.
There’s isn’t really a typical day in hydro. We are often out at different sites across Scotland depending on what work needs to be carried out. Normally at this time of the year we would be kicking off project work and conducting inspections at our sites. However, in order to keep our employees safe, we have scaled back from our normal workload and are only carrying out essential works.
Colleagues across SSE Renewables are working incredibly hard to safely keep our sites operating and generating low carbon electricity during this time, but I wanted to find another way I could help during the crisis.
I’m lucky enough to own a 3D printer at home and have been 3D printing for around three years now. I first used a printer whilst at university for prototype development and have made a lot of interesting things since then - including a scale model of SSE Renewables’ Tummel Bridge Power Station hydro turbine.
I was inspired by the work of groups like 3DCrowd UK, a voluntary coordination hub that provides instructions and designs for 3D printed face shields and runs an ordering portal for healthcare professionals. So, together with a small team of 3D printing enthusiasts, we signed up to 3DCrowd UK to work to support efforts to print face shields for frontline medical workers in the UK.
We’re using every moment we have and whatever material we can get our hands on to print the much-needed face shields. So far, I’ve made over 150 face shields and I’m working to produce between 10 and 12 shields each day.
We’ve been fundraising for materials to help make the face shields as well as hopefully raising enough to purchase more 3D printers to help our efforts and already we’ve seen how willing our friends, colleagues and employers are to support us. SSE has helped us purchase four new 3D printers to spread out across the team and I’ve also managed to source two more from a local to school to use just now while schools are closed.
We’ve been able to print pretty much non-stop in the last week, with over 400 face shields we made being delivered to healthcare workers who need them.
We’re putting our 13 printers to work just now, but when all this is over we will distribute the 3D printers that have been donated to local schools or clubs that could utilise them for STEM-based activities and get other people excited about the technology we are so fascinated by.
We want to help make sure no frontline healthcare worker has to go to work without sufficient PPE, so if anyone has a 3D printer and would like to help please visit https://www.3dcrowd.uk/. If you’d like to help us directly, we’ve set up a GoFundMe page to help support purchasing materials for us to use to make the masks: https://www.gofundme.com/f/3d-print-4-healthcare-workers
We’re incredibly lucky to have these machines to hand and we’re delighted we have been able to use them to help out during the outbreak and we’ll continue making shields until the crisis is over
Continuing our profiles of SSE’s employees who are working hard to support the safe and reliable supply of electricity at local, regional and national level, on which the people and organisations whose work is critical to the coronavirus response depend, we are focusing on Donald Campbell from our Transmission Operations and Maintenance team which is part of SSEN’s Transmission business.
Donald is a team manager, supervising overhead line patrols on the high voltage network across the Highlands.
He said: “As transmission network operator in the north of Scotland, SSEN Transmission plays a vital role in powering the country, providing a safe and reliable supply of electricity on which people and organisations depend. Its employees are working 24/7 to keep the network running, providing an essential service transporting energy to where it is needed.
“I live in Inverness and have been working for SSEN Transmission for six years as an overhead line team manager in the Operations team. My work normally takes me all over the north of Scotland, in some of the remotest and most difficult to reach locations and I am out in all weathers, in every season.
“Most people might not know what an overhead line maintenance team does, but our work is really important in making sure we keep the high voltage network in perfect working order. This keeps the power flowing, making sure it can be transported from where it is generated to where it is needed, across the country.
“To keep the network fully operational, we inspect thousands of kilometres of overhead line in our area. As you can imagine, this is a big undertaking. Although we have technology to help us do this, the lines still need to be inspected in person. We need to walk along the route of our power lines to survey the pylons, the wires and the fittings, checking for any potential damage or defects.
“Recent events have really brought home to me, even more so, how important the work we do actually is. We maintain a safe and reliable supply of electricity on which everybody depends including the people and organisations critical to the coronavirus response.
“Just like everyone across the country we have been adapting the way we work to ensure we are following government guidelines, protecting each other and the communities where we are working. We have established new working procedures to make sure we can work safely and maintain social distancing, keeping a minimum two metre distance to each other when carry out our inspections. We would normally travel together in small teams to our work site but are now travelling alone in separate vehicles to ensure we can maintain separation.
“I have always felt lucky to do the job I do. I love the outdoors and I get to work in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. Now as a key worker, I am playing my part in supporting the coronavirus response and its frontline workers. It makes me even prouder to do my job.”
Looking after the welfare of the 24 staff who maintain the electricity network that keeps the power flowing to Shetland’s 14,000 homes and businesses is the job of Rosie Doull, Internal Resource Manager with our Networks business, SSEN.
Shetland has a population of 23,000, a climate noticeably different from the UK mainland, wind speeds of up to 70-80mph are not uncommon, and a landscape which is at the same time both breath-taking and logistically challenging, so it needs an electricity network that is robust, resilient and ready to withstand not just a tough winter, but challenging conditions all year round.
Rosie and her colleagues on Shetland are part of the country’s army of critical workers keeping Britain going during the coronavirus pandemic, looking after the poles, wires, cables and substations on the island.
She said: “The big change for everyone is that we’re all now based at home as part of the social distancing measures.
“Across SSEN we’re prioritising operational activities to focus on critical work that ensures a safe, reliable and resilient supply of electricity to our customers, including high priority maintenance and responding to faults, and everyone is now heading to the jobs straight from home instead of the depot.
“The depot is where we’re all used to seeing each other at the start of the working day, having a cuppa and a catch-up, and so being based in the house is such a massive change.”
As well as being based at home, there are other changes to the way teams are working, as Rosie explains: “All travel is now on a ‘one person, one vehicle’ basis unless it’s an emergency and there’s no possible alternative. “We’ve also got signs for the teams to take with them on jobs to let the public know it’s critical work and to respect the social distancing guidelines. “Living and working in an island community has brought another set of challenges, as Rosie explains the wider coronavirus strategy has seen transport links between Shetland to the mainland reduced.
She said: “SSEN has been great with our team up here, they realise that our situation is a lot different compared to the mainland, and so they’ve arranged for extra supplies to be shipped up to us. But still, with the general transport links being cut back, it’s made us even more focussed on our day-to-day stock levels.”
Away from work, Rosie is supporting Shetland Scrubs, which is making scrubs for NHS frontline workers on the island, allowing them to leave their scrubs at work to be washed at the end of the day, minimising the risk of any further contamination as they head home.
“This is another great example of how a community can pull together,” said Rosie.
Teams from SSE’s networks business (SSEN) are continuing to deliver essential services to communities across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
Our operational team, registered by the Government as critical workers are on the frontline every day, fixing faults on the power network whilst adapting to new working conditions and government guidelines.
These include a one person, one vehicle rule, which ensures employees can travel safely, avoiding close contact with other people, to undertake the critical works required to keep the power flowing to homes and businesses.
Sean Barrett and Andy Richards are just two of SSEN’s frontline workers.
They are responsible for maintaining and restoring a network powering the homes and businesses of almost 980,000 customers across the Thames Valley, a patch which includes around 8,500 kilometres of cables, 53,000 poles and over 10,000 substations.
Sean said: “While the key part of our jobs – to keep the power flowing to our customers – hasn’t changed, the way we carry out our jobs has. I work as a jointer, so my job is to repair any cable faults that can damage the network and cause power cuts. My colleague, Andy excavates the trench to enable me to access the damaged area and carry out the necessary repair or replacement of the cable – tasks we now carry out in isolation.
“We still work as a team and have a strict one person, one van policy, so we can work safely while respecting social distancing guidelines. All of our shifts and rotas have been reconfigured so we always have the same working partners and by doing this in addition social distancing and wearing the correct PPE, we are reducing the amount of people we come in to contact with and therefor working as safely as possible.
“Every job we do always starts with a risk assessment, but now there are a few more layers of assessment we need to make to keep ourselves and our customers safe.
“I take pride in playing a role in keeping the power flowing for our customers and having a job that really makes a difference, especially when I undertake that job with a trusted colleague like Andy.”
SSE has set out details of the support it is providing customers, employees, suppliers and communities during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is an update to the statement published on 27 March 2020, with both statements published on www.sse.com/coronavirus.
Key developments include:
- £550k so far awarded to communities: Within just over a month, SSE has awarded over £550k to community councils and groups across the UK and Ireland to help support their emergency response to coronavirus. By mid-May this figure is expected to be close to £1m. Next week SSE will publish a comprehensive report which provides detailed information on the funds which have been awarded to support community coronavirus responses.
- Supporting those most vulnerable and isolated customers: In addition to promoting the Priority Services Register (PSR), an existing and well-established channel through which vulnerable customers receive additional support, SSEN have temporarily expanded the PSR criteria to include those at increased risk who have been instructed to self-isolate for a 12-week period based on public health guidance, and established a dedicated team to proactively call customers who may be at risk of social isolation during the lockdown period, checking on their welfare and signposting to further community support where required.
- Help for employees with caring responsibilities: SSE has created a range of options for all carers affected by disruption to normal care provisions. This includes working more flexibly, temporarily changing contractual hours, utilising leave options including five days of additional paid Emergency Leave and consideration of an annualised approach to hours. Employees can bring forward some of their holiday balance from the next leave year and the company is offering a salary sacrifice holiday purchase scheme.
SSE also continues to be a signatory to the C-19 Business Pledge and a member of the C-19 Business Pledge Steering Group. The company is committed to playing an active part in a positive business response to the challenges faced by people, communities and the country as a whole.
SSE’s networks business (SSEN) is expanding the eligibility of its Priority Services Register to include those at risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Nearly 750,000 customers are signed-up to the free service, including those with a young baby, over 60s and people who rely on electricity for home medical equipment.
It will now include customers considered ‘high risk’ and ‘extremely high risk’ of severe illness from coronavirus, this includes people who have received an NHS letter advising them to socially shield for 12-weeks.
Julie Walker, SSEN’s Social Obligations Manager, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has changed things for us all, and with everyone doing their bit to ensure they keep themselves, their friends, family and loved ones safe during the pandemic, here at SSEN we continue to focus on ensuring those most vulnerable are supported by our dedicated teams.
“By expanding the eligibility for our PSR we want to offer some reassurance in these worrying times, and so I’d encourage anyone who thinks that they, a family member, friend or neighbour could benefit from the extra help that is on offer, to get in touch, we’d love to hear from them.”
A new dedicated 80-strong team has been set up to proactively contact customers who may be at risk of social isolation during the lockdown period – checking in on their welfare and pointing them towards further community support.
Julie added: “We’re also very aware that a lot of our elderly customers rely on their regular lunch clubs and coffee mornings for social interaction, and with these postponed at the moment they may not be having as much contact with the outside world. This new programme of proactive calls is our way of letting the more elderly PSR customers know that we’re still here for them, and hopefully we’ll have a good few friendly chats in the process.”
For more information, or to register, please visit our priority services page.
A gin distillery in the north of Scotland has switched production to make hand sanitiser in response to coronavirus, thanks to support from Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm funds.
The Ice and Fire Distillery, near Latheronwheel, Caithness received just over £9,000 from the Beatrice Caithness Fund for its efforts and is now distributing supplies free of charge to doctors' surgeries, local shops and care workers.
Ice and Fire director Jacqueline Black said: "The fact that we can supply hand sanitiser for up to the next 12 months is going to be such a benefit to the local community.
"Covid-19 is not going away any time soon so I think that using hand sanitiser is going to be a part of daily life, and the ability to give it to people free is fantastic."
Jacqueline and her team initially started making the product from ethanol in March after being approached by a local medical practice. But costs were high and they looked to source funding.
The Beatrice funds, alongside other grants, have helped buy denatured alcohol and other supplies to begin large-scale production. They now intend to make 4,000 litres of hand sanitiser over the next 12-months.
Jacqueline added: "Without the financial aid and support from the local panel of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm fund, this project would not have been possible.
"Their support was the catalyst for all the other agencies coming on board to provide a truly triple-helix approach to the project. This really shows how the local community can benefit from the fund and how vital the fund is at a time like this”
Fiona Morrison, Beatrice’s Community Fund Manager said: "We are delighted that the team at Ice and Fire Distillery came to us to discuss their project. Supporting business activities usually sits out-with our funding criteria but we could see the huge difference this project was making to the local area, so we turned the application around quickly and our panel decided to make an award.
"To have the support of Caithness Rural Transport shows what great work is being done in communities to support each other through this unprecedented time.”
The Beatrice Caithness Fund is associated with Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm Limited, a joint venture between SSE Renewables (40%), Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (35%) and Red Rock Power Limited (25%). The site is Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm and makes around £380,000 per year available for community and charitable projects in Caithness. Between 2017 and 2021 £1.9m of funding is expected to be invested in local projects.
Steve Rose, Commissioning Manager for Dogger Bank Wind Farm, has been volunteering as a first responder in his local community for nearly three years. During the coronavirus outbreak Steve is volunteering with Norfolk Accident Rescue Service on a weekly basis. Here he describes how SSER is supporting him balance his job with volunteering on the frontline.
Currently I am part of the team working on the development and construction of the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Dogger Bank. The project is a joint venture is between SSE Renewables, who are responsible for the construction, and Equinor, who will operate the wind farm once it’s built.
I’ve been working with SSE Renewables in offshore wind for over ten years off and on and have been in the energy sector for over 30 years. Health and safety within our industry is the absolute number one priority, whether you’re working on an offshore wind farm or in an office, so for over twenty years I’ve been a trained first aider.
Thankfully I have never had to use those skills in my day-to-day job, but at one of my first aid refresher courses I got talking to the instructor who mentioned the local ambulance were looking for volunteer first responders.
Soon after I volunteered to be a Community First Responder, volunteers trained by local Ambulance Service Trusts to attend certain emergency calls where we live and work.
I’ve been volunteering with them for a number of years now in my local community on the coast of Norfolk. Last year alone I was on duty for over a thousand hours and attended over 150 emergency calls.
Our aim is to reach potentially life-threatening emergencies in the vital first minutes before an ambulance crew arrives. In an emergency every minute counts and in some rural areas, like my community, it can take ambulances up to 15 minutes to attend an emergency, so we are there to help stabilise the patient and provide appropriate care until the more skilled ambulance crews arrive.
I’ve been using my training as a Community First Responder to also volunteer hours with local charity the Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS). They have several rapid response vehicles crewed by a variety of critical care paramedics and first responders who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to be dispatched by the ambulance control room.
During the pandemic I’m volunteering additional hours via NARS to the local ambulance service where I work in one of the response cars.
Just like at SSE Renewables, the safety of the first responders is paramount at all times and we are adhering to government guidance to ensure we keep ourselves and any potential patients as safe as possible through the use of PPE, frequent handwashing and social distancing where possible.
Normally I would work these volunteer hours around my regular job, but SSE Renewables is allowing me to volunteer my hours when required, helping me to be part of my local community’s efforts to deal with emergencies, related to the virus or otherwise, as quickly and as flexibly as possible. In some ways the coronavirus outbreak has brought out the best in people and businesses.
It’s incredibly rewarding to know we have helped people in their extreme time of need, even though it can also be incredibly hard. I tend to concentrate on the positives rather than what could have happened but sadly we haven’t been able to save everybody.
All the members of NARS are volunteers and we offer our services free of charge. The organisation is funded solely by donation – we receive no government or health service funding. If anybody would like to make a donation they can be made at www.nars.org.uk
While many jobs can be done remotely, operating a power station is still a hands-on job and keeping operators safe, while keeping the lights on, is critical.
Our power stations and gas storage facilities are fully operational, continuing to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity, for people and organisations across the country.
Alongside his colleagues, Gary Paterson, a Unit Operator, has an essential role in the control room at Peterhead Power Station in the north of Scotland. Stringent social distancing measures have been put in place – including a unique way of keeping the control unit clean for the shift teams.
Gary said: “We’ve introduced a whole range of social distancing measures at the station. At the beginning of each shift we now arrive through a different entrance to those leaving, so that we don’t come into contact with anyone from another team. We give written handovers between shifts instead of face-to-face, and where necessary, we provide further information over the phone – all different to our usual ways of working but still delivering.
“All of the keyboards and other devices in the control room are decontaminated and wrapped with cling film at the beginning and end of each shift. If any devices have to be shared at any point, we use latex gloves to protect ourselves and our colleagues.
“These stations are critical to the electricity infrastructure, providing the power the country and the NHS needs to get us through these unprecedented times, so it’s vital we are able to continue working in a safe and controlled way.
“We’re used to stringent safety practices on site – when you are in the energy industry it’s so important – and these new ways of working are just an extension of those measures.”
Fellow Peterhead worker, Ami Singh, and his engineering team, have adapted to working remotely and he says they will emerge stronger because of it.
He said: “Everyone at Peterhead has rallied together towards the common objective of keeping the electricity flowing. Our team of hands-on engineers, who typically spend their time undertaking plant monitoring, inspections, testing and managing projects on site, are all working differently now.
“Working from home has become the ‘new normal’ for the team, and we are using more technology to remotely monitor plant performance and provide technical support to our operators.”
Scheduled outage maintenance is still required to keep the station in top condition and two turbines are undergoing their 8,000-hour inspections. Kevin Beaumont, Lead Asset Engineer at Peterhead, said: “In normal circumstances the manufacturer, Siemens Energy, would come to site several times in the run up to the outages to agree the plan and any additional work required. However, on this occasion, this preparatory work all had to be done remotely by phone and Skype.
“Siemens Energy now have around 20 personnel on site, and we’ve helped them secure exclusive use of an entire local hotel, providing accommodation and three meals a day, to ensure they can carry out the work while minimising contact with anyone else.
“This inspection and work is critical to making our contribution to the GB electricity system and we’re doing this to continue to provide safe and reliable power and keep us and the communities around us safe.
“There is a lot of work that has to go on across the country to ensure the power keeps flowing and we’re happy we can play our part in the wider efforts to keep the country going in this difficult time.”
A blog by Martin Sutherland, Beatrice Operations Manager.
Beatrice offshore wind farm consists of 84 turbines, providing enough renewable energy to power up to 450,000 homes each year.
The site, operated by SSE Renewables, has been up and running for almost a year now, providing critical low carbon power to the UK’s energy mix. In these unprecedented times we have engaged our practiced emergency responses and adapted our working arrangements to ensure the safety of our staff whilst allowing us to keep Beatrice running.
Our operations and maintenance base in Wick, where I am usually based, normally has around 50 people working out of it.
Just now, during the outbreak, we are running with only essential control room employees, two members of staff at a time. The site is also a meeting place for technicians before they head offshore, but the teams are observing guidelines and maintaining an acceptable distance from one another.
The rest of us are able to work from home, keeping in contact and checking via regular Skype meetings. But, we remain on call if required to head, safely, to site.
For those working in the control room, they have their own dedicated access and egress areas and separate welfare facilities. There are also strict hygiene controls in place for shared areas such as the control room desk.
At this time of year, we’re just about to head into the servicing window of spring and summer which would normally see up to four crew transfer vessels (CTVs) leaving each day to go to the site to carry out maintenance at the turbines, with crews of up to 12 on each vessel.
However, at the moment, the team is focussing on work essential to keeping the turbines spinning so only one CTV is leaving daily.
CTVs are relatively small vessels, so to ensure we can maximise social distancing, crews of 12 have been reduced to crews of six to allow a safe distance between individuals.
Similar to scenes outside some supermarkets, the technicians are waiting to transfer onto the turbines by forming a queue with spaces of at least 2m between them.
To ensure the safety of our workers still going offshore, we have introduced health screening measures, and PPE is available on the boat if needed. On days when the weather turns out to be too bad to sail, the teams are stood down and head straight back home.
It’s a very strange time, but it’s one we’re all helping one another through. Whether it’s sharing photos of a good day out at site for those of us working indoors or just checking in to ensure people are taking time away from their screen. We’re all very proud to be playing our part in keeping Beatrice turning.
The Customer Contact Centre workers with our SSEN business are the first point of contact for customers reporting a power cut.
They are vital in keeping large swathes of the UK population informed and in-touch with how we are keeping their power supply flowing during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Kayleigh Menmuir is part of the team at our centre in the North of Scotland.
With many people working from home, self-isolating or simply spending more time in their house, it is vital our customers, some of the whom are vulnerable, feel they have a point of contact – which they have through the 105 phone number.
It’s someone like Kayleigh who is their first point of contact. She’ll take their details and information about the problem before the work is passed onto the Fault Despatch Team, who can get to work fixing any issues.
She’ll also be alerted to if the caller has any further issues through SSEN’s Priority Services Register.
She explains: “Our Priority Services Register is such an important part of what we do, as it provides free help and support to customers who need it most if their power is off. As soon as I enter the customer’s address it tells me if there is someone already signed up to the register, and this alerts me that their situation may be more serious when they’ve not got any electricity, for example they may have a young baby in the house with them or they may need electricity for home medical equipment.
“Covid-19 has made a huge difference in our lives, as everyone is doing their bit to keep not only themselves, but also their friends, family and loved ones safe. We normally all work together in the Customer Contact Centre, but to prevent as many key staff as possible coming into contact with each other, we’ve now split into two teams; I’m still in the Customer Contact Centre and the other group is currently working in a different part of our site. Also, with anyone who can work at home now doing just that, what’s normally an office that’s really busy and full of colleagues helping customers on the phone, is now a lot quieter, which is quite strange.
“I enjoy speaking with customers and I enjoy being able to help other people, and so in this job it’s a great feeling knowing that I’m part of a bigger team that’s doing its best to keep the lights on for all our customers.
SSE Renewables and Greencoat Renewables, joint owners of Galway Wind Park, have today launched a €70,000 COVID-19 response fund to support local communities around the wind farm in Connemara, Co. Galway.
The funding, which is being made immediately available, will support community groups that are currently mobilising a rapid response to support those most-in-need as a direct result of the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In addition to supporting rapid response initiatives that are currently being mobilised, funding will also be available for projects that will help rebuild our community in the months ahead.
The COVID-19 response funding is being released early from the overall Galway Wind Park annual Community Fund to ensure emergency funds are made available now when they are needed most.
John O’Sullivan at Galway Wind Park Operations said:
“From the outset of the COVID-19 emergency, community and voluntary groups have responded remarkably to provide services and supports for the vulnerable in our society. From the smallest gestures, such as calling those living alone, to more organised and larger-scale home delivery efforts, volunteers across our community are making a real difference to people, especially the elderly or unwell, at this very anxious time.
“As a member of the community, the team at Galway Wind Park has an important role to play in supporting these efforts to address the impacts that COVID-19 is having on our lives. That’s why we are releasing €70,000 in funding early from our annual Community Fund to ensure that emergency cash is made available as quickly as possible to the groups that need it now, as well as to those groups who will be adapting in the months ahead to minimise the impact that the pandemic is having on the way we live our lives.”
The funding is available to volunteer-led community groups delivering COVID-19 response activities to communities and individuals living within 10km of Galway Wind Park farm. Applications will be assessed on a first-come basis and will be rapidly processed to ensure that funding reaches the community need as quickly as possible.
Groups wishing to apply for funding can do so by downloading application forms from GalwayWindPark.com, by emailing GWPcommunityfund@sse.com, or by calling Community Development Officer Anne Reynolds on (086) 878 3104.
Groups wishing to apply for funding can do so by completing the application form, and by returning the completed form by email to GWPcommunityfund@sse.com. For further information or assistance please call Community Development Officer Anne Reynolds on (086) 878 3104.
Located in Connemara’s Cloosh Valley, Galway Wind Park is Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm, generating enough renewable energy to power every home in Galway city and county. Jointly owned by SSE Renewables and Greencoat Renewables, the wind farm already operates an overall €400,000-plus Community Fund paid annually in contributions to local groups and individuals via its Local Fund, Major Projects Fund, and Scholarship Fund.
SSE Enterprise employees helped pack 75,000 meals to be delivered to some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable households, after volunteering to support a local charity.
Workers helped staff at FARE Scotland to distribute vital supplies to people across the city.
The 10-strong group heard about the charity’s coronavirus emergency hamper drive through a friend and decided to lend a hand.
They helped pack around 2800 emergency hampers at St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow's east end, which contained enough food to support a family for up to 2-3 days – freeing up FARE staff to make the vital deliveries.
Pauline Wilson from FARE Scotland said: “Demand for the hampers has grown massively from day-to-day and we’ve been inundated with calls and request from the local community.
“At times we have struggled to keep up with the demand. However with the support from SSE we have kept the hampers going out.
“Their support has helped over 2000 families receive emergency food parcels so far.”
After the success of their initial efforts the SSE Enterprise employees have offered up more of their time, and will now continue their support twice a week.
FARE Scotland has already spent around £35,000 in their emergency hamper drive, on top of receiving another £7,000 in donations with a further £21,000 order arriving this week.
If you’re a SSEN customer and experiencing a power cut, chances are Cheryl Ross will be dispatching the engineer to solve the issue and get your lights back on.
And with the majority of the country needing to stay home to keep us all safe, during the coronavirus outbreak, restoring power quickly has never been more vital.
Cheryl is just one of the critical power workers needed to keep Britain going during the pandemic.
As soon as a customer alerts our contact centre of an issue with their power, Cheryl gets the right engineers to the area to start the process of getting the lights back on as safely and as quickly as possible.
She said: “Power cuts happen less frequently that they ever did but when they do happen, we want to get the issue sorted as fast as possible. We need to get the field engineers to where the issue is, so I need to find the closest crew and get the information to them. I’ll be checking in on them for updates as to how the job is going, when they might finish, where they are and scheduling them onto the next one.
“I’m in constant contact with our Control Room to make sure they’re aware of any damage to the network or other situations which need to be resolved for everyone’s safety.
“Our whole team is normally based in the Customer Contact Centre, but to limit the number of critical workers coming into contact with each other, we’ve now split across two separate parts of the site to keep our distance.”
Key workers across many different industries are doing a sterling job, often under difficult circumstances, as they work to deliver for wider society.
Cheryl said: “COVID-19 has made a massive difference to all of our daily lives, no matter what we do or where we live, and everyone is focussed on doing all they can to keep themselves safe. In our case doing that helps be able to keep serving our customers.
“It’s a worrying time but electricity is essential to helping people stay home and stay safe as well as supporting the wider efforts so I’m proud to be playing my small part.”
SSE and its committed employees are working hard to support the safe and reliable supply of electricity at local, regional and national level, on which the people and organisations whose work is critical to the Coronavirus response depend.
SSE is collaborating on a daily basis with government, regulatory and industry authorities across the UK and Ireland. In the absence of specific guidance in some areas, with some differences in guidance across the jurisdictions in which SSE operates, and with companies understandably expected to use their judgement on what work should continue, SSE is currently progressing with activity where it is judged to be:
- Essential to the safe and reliable supply of electricity in the medium term, which includes meeting our regulatory obligations until the end of the coming winter.
- Protecting the public – through the provision of electricity, streetlighting, telecoms, gas, heat and water.
- Directly supporting organisations critical to the Coronavirus response and SSE’s own Coronavirus response.
- Providing support for vulnerable customers, including those customers we supply directly with energy
- Delivering and maintaining infrastructure, particularly that which is important to achieving government targets, where it is safe to continue this work and taking into account the various guidance from government, regulatory and industry bodies
In conducting this work, there will be the need to be active on certain construction sites where the work fits the criteria above and SSE will continue to engage constructively with all relevant authorities, adapting our activity in response to what is clearly an evolving situation.
All workers who can work from home are doing so. Where we can’t progress critical work remotely, we will work with our contract partners to ensure work is progressed safely, in line with guidance, and that we are sensitive to the needs and concerns of the communities that we serve.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said:
“Our employees are playing a critical role in supporting the safe and reliable supply of electricity during this crisis. We are proud of the essential work that they do and as this situation evolves we will do everything we can to help communities, customers and wider society by providing the energy that they need. Working closely with governments and regulators, we are doing our best to minimise the impact and will continue to adapt our approach where new guidance emerges.”
Our SSEN line workers are some of our most critical employees, on the frontline every day, fixing faults on the power network.
Jamie Sainsbury is a linesman responsible for restoring and maintaining the network to help keep power flowing to 590,000 customers in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.
With hospitals and many NHS services across the area, alongside people isolated at home, safe and reliable power has never been more important, and Jamie is playing his part in the effort to ensure the continued delivery of our services to homes and businesses throughout our network areas.
And Jamie is playing his part in the effort to ensure a smooth and consistent delivery of our service to homes and businesses throughout our network areas.
He said: “During this outbreak my role is vitally important to ensure that all of our customers get the robust and resilient power supply they need and that our more vulnerable customers feel safe in the knowledge that our teams are working hard to ensure they are supported.
“Whilst we’ve stopped non-essential work in line with the stay home, stay safe guidelines, our critical work must continue and we’re doing that in as safe a way as possible.
“I still work as part of a team but we have a one person, one van policy to protect all our workers. We are practicing social distancing, whether I’m carrying out a repair to a section of damaged network, or collecting essential equipment from our stores, and we have our PPE and hand sanitiser, wipes and gloves all stocked up
“It doesn’t mean I don’t still work closely with colleagues to stay safe and to complete vital work each day, it’s just not done face-to-face anymore and that’s where technology is vital to keep us all in touch.
“Like most critical businesses that still need to operate, we are trying to keep things as normal as possible and provide great service every day.
“Being a key worker makes me really proud knowing I am playing an important role in helping others within the community.”
A project to replace the submarine electricity cable connecting the Isle of Jura to Tayvallich in Argyll is now complete, following a cable fault in November.
Teams from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) connected the new cable to the main electricity network on Tuesday 31 March, returning the network to normal operation to ensure a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the islands of Jura, Islay and Colonsay.
SSEN received a marine licence to carry out the cable replacement on 24 January and a specialist marine vessel sailed to the west coast to commence installation as quickly as possible. Continued unfavourable weather conditions meant SSEN’s teams were unable to secure the three-day window of suitable sea conditions required to lay the cable.
The vessel remained on standby and was mobilised at first light on Wednesday 25 March to commence installation, with SSEN’s regional teams making final connections to energise the cable on Tuesday 31 March.
Since November, Jura, Islay and Colonsay have been powered by a combination of Bowmore Power Station and local renewable generation to ensure customers on the islands continued to receive the power they need.
Mark Rough, SSEN’s Director of Customer Operations, said:
“Keeping the power flowing to the communities we serve is our key priority at SSEN and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the community and local businesses for their patience and support as our teams worked on this essential cable replacement project.
“Adverse weather conditions, including Storms Brendan, Ciara and Dennis, presented our teams with various challenges along the way, but I’d like to thank everyone involved, from our subsea teams, contract partners and renewable generators; to our colleagues working on the islands, Bowmore Power Station, and our control room for their continued efforts to help return the network to normal operation as soon as possible.”
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, added:
“SSEN and their partners have done a tremendous job in restoring the link despite appalling weather delaying the operation for a considerable period of time. Their commitment to ensuring that the islands are connected has been total even though it has involved laying a completely new cable at very considerable cost. They have also been very good at keeping the communities - and elected representatives - informed. I am sure everyone is grateful to them - and everyone hopes it will never happen again.”
For over 70 years, SSE Renewables, and its predecessors, have operated and maintained hydro power stations across Scotland.
With over 60 across the country, they are Britain’s biggest battery – helping to store energy when the wind is high and generating when wind is low.
Just now, as we find ourselves in unprecedented times, these power banks are producing critical renewable electricity to help keep Britain’s lights on.
We are continuing to operate and maintain all our hydro stations safely, and in line with UK and Scottish Government advice, from our oldest site, Foyers Falls, to our newest, Glendoe hydro power station.
But our hydro schemes are as much about managing water as they are producing electricity. We have a duty of care, to ensure that the waters in our schemes are managed appropriately, minimising any impact our work could have on the environment in and around the schemes.
At the moment, whilst many people are working from home, critical members of the hydro team are working safely at our sites, monitoring the weather continuously and preparing our hydro fleet ahead of time to so we can respond to the weather in the most efficient and safest way possible to help meet the energy demands of the nation.
The way we flex our reservoirs helps mitigate the impacts of high rainfall by allowing us to store some of the water and take the peaks off the highest river flow periods. A lot of this work can be done from a control room, but we still need people on the ground day in and day out at these sites to make sure they are operating safely and effectively.
The majority of our hydro sites are in quite rural places, so there is plenty of room to ensure we are more than compliant with UK Government advice on social distancing.
That said, we have still adjusted our operations to have essential segregated teams working across site, to minimise the number of people with whom employees come into contact, and we have increased COVID specific hygiene measures.
I'd like to thank everyone in our team out working to help manage the waters and keep the lights on for their continued dedication and critical support during this challenging time.
A new £350,000 fund to support communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic is now open for applications.
Due to the significant impact on communities from the coronavirus outbreak, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has repurposed its annual Resilient Communities Fund to offer grants of up to £3,000 for projects that will specifically support community members in vulnerable situations.
Applications are being encouraged for projects that will provide extra help to those who are self-isolating or social shielding, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions. Examples include a social delivery service, online advice centres or a befriending scheme.
The fund is open to community councils, parish councils and town councils in SSEN’s network areas in the north of Scotland and central southern England. The initial funding round will close on 30 April, with additional rounds to open based on demand. Grant awards will be issued in early May to ensure timely release of funding to community groups.
In the event the fund is oversubscribed, the panel will give priority to applications which support communities that are particularly remote or isolated, contain high levels of vulnerability or low levels of resilience.
Colin Nicol, SSEN’s Managing Director, hopes the fund will make a difference as communities rally together to support those most in need:
“In keeping the power flowing, safely and reliably, SSEN will play an integral role in the communities we serve during the coronavirus pandemic. As a responsible business, we believe this role also extends to supporting communities in their own response to the crisis.
“Following positive consultation with stakeholders and independent community fund panel members, we are delighted to relaunch our Resilient Communities Fund to help fund community resilience projects that will help those most in need.
“It’s encouraging to see communities pulling together at this time and we are pleased to play a small part in that response. I’d call on all local community council, parish and town council representatives to apply for a grant where they think we can help.”
Kerry Jardine, Scottish Government’s Resilient Communities Policy Manager and Resilient Communities Fund panel member, added:
“The SSEN Resilient Communities Fund provides a significant resource for communities to enhance their resilience to the challenges that are important to them.
“Groups throughout Scotland are currently focussing their energy on supporting their communities through the risk and restrictions that Covid-19 is presenting. We are seeing communities all over Scotland come together to develop their resilience to these challenges.
“This fund can be used to support community groups in their immediate activities and thinking ahead to their community recovering and building on their resilience to future challenges.”
Paul Bright, CEO of Citizens Advice Hampshire and Resilient Communities Fund panel member, said:
“Our service is experiencing an unprecedented surge in enquiries, many from people self-isolating or concerned as they have underlying health issues. They need help with debt, housing and financial worries. This fund will allow communities across south central England to help look after the most vulnerable. I am delighted and impressed that SSEN has extended their commitment to social responsibility and have raised the bar in offering to develop such a quick response.”
Since its launch in 2015, SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has provided over £2.4 million to 362 local community projects to build resilience and protect those most vulnerable. The criteria for this year’s fund was changed following consultation with SSEN stakeholder groups, who strongly supported opening the fund early and targeting coronavirus response.
For more information on this year’s Resilient Communities Fund or to apply, please visit ssen.co.uk/resiliencefund.
To check who your network operator is and to see if your community, parish or town council is eligible for SSEN funding, visit ssen.co.uk/whoismynetworkoperator.
For more information on how SSEN is protecting its customers, colleagues and network during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit ssen.co.uk/covid19response/.
With the nation on lockdown, many of us within SSE are able to work from home. But many colleagues remain on the frontlines working hard to support the safe and reliable supply of electricity at local, regional and national level, on which the people and organisations whose work is critical to the Coronavirus response depend.
Without their commitment to the cause, this simply wouldn’t be possible. So, over the coming weeks, we’ll be hearing from the colleagues who are out doing what they can to support the communities that we serve across the UK and ROI in their time of need.
Today we are starting with Thomas Hoffmann from our networks business, SSEN. Thomas is a Project Manager in the Network Construction department in the North of Scotland.
He said: “I live in Wick, but my work sees me managing the upgrade and maintenance work on our overhead lines all across the far north of Scotland. As part of my role I’m also a Senior Authorised Person (SAP), which means that when we need to turn off the power to carry out our essential work,
“I’m the member of staff on site who liaises with our Control Room to make sure the power goes off, stays off when the work is being done and then comes back on again safely.”
SSEN have postponed all but the most essential work in line with government advice, however the teams are still ready to help if any faults develop that cause the power to go off.
Thomas said: “I’m currently part of the Rapid Response team which is standing by and ready to go out to fix any faults should they develop across the far north of Scotland.
“If it’s essential that we go to a customer’s property as part of our work to get the power back on, we have an enhanced safety process to follow; these additional measures include checking with the customer if they are self-isolating or have the virus, rubber gloves are mandatory and we carry sanitising wipes with us everywhere we go. When we leave the property after the job is finished, our toolbox and PPE gets a good wipe down, and our gloves get double-bagged for disposal back at the depot.
“We all know how frustrating a power cut can be, but given that nearly everyone has been advised to stay at home and also some people may be self-isolating or unable to go out, it is even more important that we have as many staff as possible available to help fix a fault.
“There’s always been a great community spirit in this part of the country, and this is something I’m noticing more and more with each passing day, with colleagues and friends regularly checking in with each other as we all realise just how challenging a time this is for everyone.”
SSE has joined forces with a host of businesses in signing the C-19 Business Pledge to support the UK through the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery efforts.
The C-19 pledge, established by The Rt Hon Justine Greening and leading businessman David Harrison, aims to unite the business community behind three key aims:
- supporting their own employees throughout and beyond this challenging time;
- publishing clear and simple advice for customers; and
- doing what they can to help communities through the epidemic.
SSE’s key priority is ensuring the safe and reliable supply of electricity, on which the people and organisations whose work is critical to the Covid-19 response depend. At the same time, it is committed to supporting its workforce and wider communities with the challenges they face.
In line with that, SSE has also today set out details of the first steps it has taken to support customers, communities and employees.
- £1m made available immediately for communities: SSE has brought forward up to 10% of its annual community funds to be available to communities in direct response to the challenges posed by Coronavirus
- Supporting vulnerable customers through the Priority Services Register: SSEN is using this well-established channel through which vulnerable customers are provided additional support, working closely with local agencies to ensure those who are vulnerable can be reached as quickly as possible in the event of an electricity network fault
- Protecting those providing a critical service: Reflecting government guidance, measures are in place to protect key personnel on SSE sites where work must continue to support the supply of electricity, while non-critical work has been suspended to enable as many employees as possible to remain in their homes
SSE will continue to look at ways it can help meet the challenges of Covid-19 as the situation evolves in the weeks and months ahead, and will be updating its statement regularly with further details.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said: “All businesses have a responsibility to customers, employees and communities and we’re no different. We’re pleased to be able to join forces with other like-minded businesses in signing the C-19 pledge and continuing to play our part in the national fight against the virus.
“Today we’ve set out the steps we’ve taken so far, underpinned by our brilliant workforce who are responding to this unprecedented situation with commitment, professionalism and sheer hard work, to deliver reliable electricity to the country. We’ll continue to look at more ways we can play our part in the weeks and months ahead.”
The Rt Hon Justine Greening said: “Those companies who are able to, can have a huge role in battling the impact of coronavirus and make a real difference in these uniquely challenging times.
“I welcome the work being done by SSE and others who are playing their part; the early response has been incredible and I’ll do everything I can to help to unite British businesses in this effort.”
SSE and its committed employees are working hard to support the safe and reliable supply of electricity at local, regional and national level, on which the people and organisations whose work is critical to the Coronavirus response depend.
SSE is collaborating on a daily basis with government authorities across the UK and Ireland. In the absence of specific guidance and with companies understandably expected to use their judgement on what is critical, SSE is currently deeming critical activity to relate to that which is:
- Essential to the safe and reliable supply of electricity in the medium term, which includes meeting our regulatory obligations until the end of the coming winter.
- Protecting the public – through the provision of electricity, streetlighting, telecoms, gas, heat and water.
- Directly supporting organisations critical to the Coronavirus response and SSE’s own Coronavirus response.
- Providing support for vulnerable customers, including those customers we supply directly with energy
In conducting its critical work, there will be the need to be active on certain construction sites where it fits the criteria above and SSE will continue to engage constructively with all relevant authorities, adapting our advice in line with what is clearly an evolving situation.
All workers who can work from home are doing so. Where we can’t progress critical work remotely, we will work with our contract partners to ensure work is progressed safely and that we are sensitive to the needs and concerns of the communities that we serve.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, said:
“Our employees are playing a critical role in supporting the safe and reliable supply of electricity during this crisis. We are proud of the essential work that they do and as this situation evolves we will do everything we can to help communities, customers and wider society by providing the energy that they need. Working closely with governments and regulators, we are doing our best to minimise the impact.”
SSE plc is committed to supporting efforts to limit and delay the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the wellbeing of our colleagues, customers and the communities we serve is our number one priority.
We continue to monitor and assess the situation across all of the jurisdictions we operate in and are working in line with Governments’ latest guidance, updating our approach as it evolves.
To-date there has been no significant impact on SSE’s day-to-day operations or performance, and all of our core assets and infrastructure remain in operation. As a provider of critical infrastructure and services we have well practiced emergency procedures that include operations during a pandemic, and we have enacted our Gold Command process to assess and monitor the situation.
However, this is a fast changing environment and, like every other business, we are planning for a range of scenarios and are in regular contact with the Governments, regulators and industry representatives in the jurisdictions in which we operate and will continue to work closely with all key parties during the difficult weeks and months ahead.
Across our business
Across the Group we have restricted travel to essential business need only, are maximising agile working where appropriate, reinforced hygiene measures across all of our sites and are reiterating up-to-date Government and medical guidance to all employees.
Our networks and generation businesses have implemented robust measures to protect control rooms and contact centres, segregating key personnel and modifying working protocols. They are working with Governments, regulators, the system operators and wider industry networks on business continuity planning.
SSE employees working within the communities we serve have been issued with advice as they continue to support the public and in our customer facing businesses, we’ve put in place contingency planning and taken prudent measures to limit risks, where we can, for our employees and clients. Our SSE Airtricity retail business, which operates across the island of Ireland is working within the measures set out by the UK and Irish Governments in each jurisdiction to limit the spread.
We have a skilled and trained workforce who are focused on maintaining services across the communities that we operate in. We would like to acknowledge their commitment and focus.
SSE plc will continue to monitor, assess and respond according to the most up-to-date Government advice in the UK and ROI and engage proactively with key stakeholders as and when required.