More than 80,000 customers are to benefit from major improvement works to power supplies in Birmingham following the completion of the first phase of a nine-year £60 million project.
The work will provide a major boost to the power network in East Birmingham following one of the largest projects ever undertaken by Central Networks, the electricity distribution company for central England.
It will also strengthen the overall reliability of neighbouring sections of the network, in particular Sparkbrook, which has almost 30,000 connected customers. Jim O’Sullivan, director of Infrastructure Services at Central Networks, said: “This is a major project to ensure we can make a reliable power supply even better.
“It’s also worth pointing out that we’re continuing to invest during the recession and this multi-million pound investment will make sure that Birmingham’s power network has the capacity to allow the city to grow once the economy starts to pick up again.”
The overall project will take nine years to complete but the first phase has now been finished.
Phase one involved installing two 132,000 volt underground cables in the East Birmingham area, running to 17km in total, as well as building a new sub-station in the Kitts Green area and reinforcing the existing Sparkbrook sub-station.
The majority of the cable route follows the River Cole, enabling Central Networks to minimise the impact on traffic in the area.
The second phase of the project will run into 2011 and will see a third 132,000 volt cable installed, from Lea Marston sub-station to the new Kitts Green sub-station, and establishing a new high voltage sub-station to replace the existing Boughton Road sub-station.
The third phase, a new sub-station in the Chelmsley Wood area, is still in the planning process and is expected to begin in 2013.
Central Networks has taken many steps to ensure any disruption to local people and the environment is kept to a minimum. At least 6km of cable was installed by directional drilling techniques to avoid digging trenches.
“With any major project like this, there will be some disruption, particularly during the cable installation, but this has been kept to a minimum as about two thirds of the cable route avoids roads,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
“We’ve been working with all the relevant local agencies and authorities to ensure our work has little impact on everyone’s day-to-day lives.”
Other West Midlands investment projects include the reinforcements of sub-stations at Elmdon, Copt Heath and Shirley.