The east side of Birmingham is to get a completely new electricity supply network in a £40 million development plan that will take nearly ten years to complete.
Miles of high voltage cables and a number of sub-stations dating back to the 1930s will be replaced with 21st century power-supply technology.
The east Birmingham scheme will be the first major infrastructure replacement project to be undertaken by Central Networks, the electricity distribution business formed by last year's merger of Midlands Electricity and East Midlands Electricity.
The company, part of German utilities group Eon, recently got approval from power regulator Ofgem to invest a total of £1.2 billion in new infrastructure across the Midlands over the next five years.
The figure represents a 55 per cent increase in investment and marks the start of a new phase for the power industry, which since it was privatised in 1990 has concentrated on reducing costs and consolidation.
Central Networks managing director Bob Taylor said: " We are undertaking a £40 million investment to improve network performance and the overall reliability of electricity supply for 80,000 customers in east Birmingham.
"This is one of the largest project that Central Networks has undertaken so far." The £25 million first phase of the work will begin in September and take until 2008 to complete.
It will involve the installation of two new 132,000 volts cables, the construction of a new high voltage substation in Kitts Green and improvements to an existing substation at Sparkbrook.
The second phase, costing £10 million, will extend into 2011 and see the installation of a new 132,000 volts cable from Hams Hall to Kitts Green and a second new substation at Broughton Road.
The third phase, also costing £10 million, is still in the planning stage, but will involve the building of a third new substation, this time in the Chelmsley Wood area.
The project, most of which will be undertaken by subcontractors, is scheduled for completion in 2014.
Central Networks said the new substations will be smaller than the ones they will be replacing and disruption will be kept to a minimum.
Some roads will be dug up to accommodate the 15 miles of new cabling, but tunnel boring will be used wherever possible.
The work will ensure that the east Birmingham network will cope with anticipated load growth and will become an important factor for companies looking to relocate to the area.
The area covered by the project stretches from Kingstanding and Sutton Coldfield in the north, to Solihull and Shirley in the south, and from Elmdon and Chelmsley Wood in the east to Ladywood and Selly Oak in the west.
"Outside of London, this is one of the biggest projects of its kind in the country," said Mr Taylor.
Central Networks is undertaking a number of other projects in and around Birmingham at the cost of a further £7.6 million.