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Tunnel vision

One Nottinghamshire town has had more than its fair share of power cuts, but can now look forward to fewer failures, thanks to a scheme to replace more than a kilometre of fault-prone underground cable.

WPD engineer through a tunnel

A £200,000 project has seen the overlaying of 1.2km of LV cable at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, where customers have experienced frequent power cuts in recent years caused by suspected waterlogging.

The existing mains cables, which had also been weakened by joints from previous repairs, have now been replaced with the latest specification. This not only boosts the network’s resilience but is helping to prepare Kirkby for the demands of a decarbonised future. 

As the country moves towards a net zero carbon target, Kirkby – and towns and cities across the UK - will need greater network capacity to cater for devices such as car chargers, heat pumps and solar panels.

The mammoth overlaying operation has taken almost six months to complete (the last cable was finally installed in December 2019) and will benefit more than 90 customers. All the work was done live to minimise disruption to supplies.

WPD jointer at work with underground cables

Planner Mike Stratton said: “Historically, there was more than the average number of faults on the network. It got to the point where we couldn’t just keep patching it. The decision was made to overlay the network which meant completely replacing the cables and reconnecting existing services.

“It is quite rare for us to encounter a situation where we have to go to these lengths to re-lay that amount of cable and transfer the services. But the existing cable was continually faulting and it couldn’t be resolved any other way. We suspect there were issues not only with waterlogging but with the joints, arising from numerous repairs.

“The job was quite involved in terms of sheer numbers: there was a lot of cable, a lot of joints and a lot of customers, and that called for a lot of coordination.”

The project, which was centred on Manor Crescent, means that customers will no longer suffer power cuts because of the old waterlogged cable. The addition of three new link boxes will enable supplies to be re-routed and restored more quickly in the event of any future power cut. Previously, customers who went off supply could not be fed from an alternative source.

The job was delivered by Technician Hayden Harland, Jointer Ryan Collier and Craft Attendant Nick Hirst.

WPD jointer cutting into underground cables

Southwell Team Manager Sally Spirrett said: “We are really happy to have completed such a large scale, cable overlay scheme with so few complications and with so many obvious benefits for customers.

“The customers had experienced multiple interruptions as the old LV cable was frequently waterlogged. The new cable and link boxes mean we can restore customers more easily if supplies are lost again so it is a really positive outcome all round.

“We may still get faults but this means we can reduce the number of people who are affected.”

Kirkby in figures:

  • 1.2km of new 300CNE mains cable has been installed, to future proof the area and reduce the likelihood of faults;
  • 3 new link boxes have been added;
  • 150 customers were affected by the work. They were all contacted and kept informed during the project;
  • 200m of service cable was used;
  • 93 services were transferred to the new mains cable;
  • Cables replaced varied from 0.06Cu to 0.1Cu (35mm to 70mm)
Tagged under
  • Operational