FOLLOWING detailed investigations, Guernsey Electricity has concluded that the best course of action to return the Island to a more secure and affordable supply of electricity is to replace the current subsea cable named GJ1, which links Guernsey to France via Jersey.
This decision follows a comprehensive examination of the condition of the cable which identified inherent design and manufacturing issues. Since the island-wide power cut on 1st October last year, Guernsey has been reliant on energy generated by the power station in Vale for two thirds of its electricity.
Alan Bates, chief executive of Guernsey Electricity, said, ‘We have undertaken a considerable amount of work since last October, liaising closely with a number of stakeholders, including cable manufacturers, suppliers and the States of Guernsey to determine the best course of action. Having reviewed the options, we are looking to replace the cable, rather than to conduct further very expensive repairs.
‘We were always going to replace GJ1 by 2030 so the current issue means this investment decision is being brought forward. The intention is to return to importing low carbon affordable electricity as soon as possible. This is not a change of strategy but is a change of the investment timing. Until the cable is fully operational the power station will be needed to ensure electricity security is maintained.
Mr Bates added that whilst the power station is the back up today for cable issues, the company’s long-term aim has always been to further safeguard Guernsey’s electricity supply by progressing with a second connection, direct between Guernsey and France, together with the replacement of GJ1. The States of Guernsey’s revised energy policy and environmental aspirations, which are due to be published this year, will be pivotal to setting the direction for such investment decisions.
‘The recent failure of GJ1 reinforces the importance of securing a diverse supply of electricity for the Island and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. However, policy direction from the States will be fundamental in defining the diversity and security of the Island’s energy supply, including renewable generation and storage.’
Alongside this, Guernsey Electricity is working with CICRA to recover historic operating costs and adjust tariffs to reflect changes in future costs, particularly for the replacement of cables. Tariffs have not been adjusted since October 2012, and the underlying costs have increased during this period.
‘We want to be open with our customers. We hope that they understand that the cost of providing electricity has increased, and this cost will need to be passed on to those that use electricity today, rather than future customers.’