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NEW REGULATIONS TO REDUCE BAD WEATHER TREE DAMAGE TO POWER LINES

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Energy minister Malcolm Wicks has announced a consultation on...
Energy minister Malcolm Wicks has announced a consultation on

proposed amendments to electricity regulations with the primary aim

of helping make British electricity supply networks more resilient to

adverse weather conditions.

The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002

(ESQCR) came into force on 31 January 2003 to improve safety and

supply reliability standards across the country.

Since these new Regulations came into force, however, important

issues have arisen that require amendments:

* The UK storms in October 2002, which resulted in about two million

domestic consumers losing supplies for up to 10 days, highlighted the

need to improve electricity network resilience in adverse weather

conditions. Subsequent investigations have shown that the proximity

of trees and branches to overhead lines is the one overriding factor

that needs to be addressed to improve network resilience. The

proposals will require electricity companies to develop more

proactive policies and procedures to reduce the risk of inadvertent

tree contact with overhead lines and thereby increase network

resilience in adverse weather conditions. Over the period April 1998

to March 2004, there were more than 40,000 recorded instances of tree

related faults on both low and high voltage networks in Great

Britain.

* Trees coming into contact with overhead power lines were also key

factors in the major blackouts affecting about 50 million consumers

on the east coast of the USA and Canada in August 2003, and a similar

number of consumers in Italy in September 2003.

* The push for increased renewable energy generation has resulted in

offshore generating stations becoming a reality, and this is expected

to expand considerably in the coming years. It is important that

regulations to ensure public safety and address the risks of supply

interruption apply equally offshore as well as onshore.

* The introduction of the ESQCR and the new requirement to harmonise

cable core colours across the EU have resulted in an amendment to

BS7671 (also known as the IEE Wiring Regulations 16th Edition). The

ESQCR need to reflect this.

* The special nature of overhead traction supplies was recognised in

the drafting of the original ESQCR since railway networks were

exempted. However, further clarification is required to ensure that

tramways, trolleybuses and other guided vehicle systems have the same

exemption as for railways.

The consultation will run until 2 September 2005.

Notes

1. The new amendments, once introduced, will be made under sections

29, 30 and 60 of the Electricity Act 1989 (as amended by the

Utilities Act 2000 and Energy Act 2004). They will be called the

Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity (Amendment) Regulations

2005.

2. The Engineering Inspectorate at the Department of Trade and

Industry enforces the existing Regulations.

3. The draft amended Regulations (URN 05/1264) are available at the

following website: www.dti.gov.uk/energy/consultations. The

Consultation Document (URN 05/1263), Partial Regulatory Impact

Assessment (URN 05/1262), and associated Guidance Document for the

amended Regulations (URN 05/652) are also available at the above

website.

4. The formal consultation on the proposals will be carried out

between 7 June 2005 and 2 September 2005.

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