Consistent power cuts spark anger among residents

Consistent power cuts spark anger among residents

23 November 2011 - by CIARA COLHOUN

THE Christmas light switch-on could be something of a damp squib in Ballynoe following a series of power cuts in recent weeks.

The area has been blighted by recurrent blackouts which are baffling electricity experts.

Mr. Noel Deegan, who runs the village pub, said he had to cancel a function on Friday night when electricity was cut for almost seven hours throughout the afternoon into the evening.

He was also forced to empty his pub freezer following an overnight blackout last week.

He said rain or high winds seemed to trigger the blackouts, which he believes could therefore become even more commonplace over the winter.

“We cannot take the chance and use our freezer because food could go off if the electricity cuts out unexpectedly,” he said.

“I was told a transformer blew up on Friday, but it seems to me that the whole system is rotten as there is fault after fault after fault.

“Since the closure of the NIE depot in Downpatrick it is so much harder to pick up the phone and register an issue or complaint. I am getting annoyed now because it is affecting my business, which cannot be allowed to happen particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

Ballynoe resident Ronan O’Donnell, who lives on the Old Course Road, said he too was irritated by the recurrent blackouts and said the lights are often switching off without notice.

“It seems to go off any time it rains, which is obviously very often at the minute,” he said.

“So many people from the area are affected. It is not right.”

Valerie Curran, NIE customer relations manager, confirmed there had been a number of power interruptions in the Ballynoe area.

She said NIE had responded immediately to each fault restoring power as quickly as possible.

She said the fact that the fault was of an “intermittent” nature meant that power does restore but the fault keeps disappearing making it very difficult to tie it down to a particular section of line.

“Fault indicators have been fitted on the line for the last few weeks but to date they have not given a definite fault location,” she said.

“Last week NIE staff carried out a full line patrol of the circuit. On Friday a piece of NIE equipment was found broken on the overhead line and staff acted immediately to carry out repairs which meant disconnecting customers for a few hours on Friday evening.

“Unfortunately the line tripped again on Sunday indicating that there is yet another fault on the circuit. Once again we are monitoring the indicators on a daily basis in the hope of getting a fault location. We are also planning to cut trees on this circuit.”

Downpatrick councillor Eamon Mac Con Midhe said he hoped the issue would be quickly resolved.

“Electricity prices are high and in this economic climate it is unfair to expect people to pay their bills when their system is inadequate. I hope this problem is fixed as quickly as possible.”