Providing electrical power across the U.K. is far from a simple task. Since its creation in 1928, the grid that carries electricity from the point of generation to the point of use has been growing, shifting, and morphing to keep pace with both demand and geography. While National Grid takes electricity from power stations and transmits it at up to 400kV (400,000 volts) across the whole of the U.K., it is the Distribution Network Operators like Western Power Distribution (WPD) that must bridge the gap between that high-voltage grid and the customer.
From an article in Vertical Magazine by Jon Duke.
Robin Tutcher is the accountable manager at WPD’s Helicopter Unit: a specialist team that operates the company’s helicopters at treetop height for up to five hours every day. Their job is to survey, inspect and report on the condition of almost every piece of equipment involved in getting electricity from the grid to the end user.
“The customer is at the heart of everything we do,” explained Tutcher. “And given the size of the area we cover, we effectively have over 23 million customers.”
The team’s beat covers 21,600 square miles (56,000 square kilometers) from the far southwest corner of England, across Southern Wales, and up to the east coast. But it is the sheer number of towers, poles and transformers — known to the professionals as “assets” — that provides the challenge.
Walking the Line
With almost every property in the country connected to electricity, looking at a map of the distribution network highlights the scale of the task.
While the high voltage distribution lines on large steel towers connect the main regions relatively logically, the smaller poles are scattered seemingly at random, with some circuits threading their way between large built-up areas, while other spurs run out to individual cottages in the middle of nowhere.
For the complete article on Western Power Distribution CLICK HERE.
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