Electricity supply upgrade begins

Work is now under way to bring Diss's failing electricity network into the 21st century, under the watchful eye of the MP who threatened to have EDF Energy's licence taken away if improvements were not made.

Work is now under way to bring Diss's failing electricity network into the 21st century, under the watchful eye of the MP who threatened to have EDF Energy's licence taken away if improvements were not made.

South Norfolk MPRichard Bacon was taken on a helicopter tour of overhead electricity lines at the start of EDF Energy's £200,000 programme to upgrade the area's power supply.

Mr Bacon wrote to energy minister Malcolm Wicks last December, asking for an inquiry into EDF following a series of day-long power cuts in Diss that he said were crippling local businesses.

Following the resulting pressure on EDF from the Department of Trade and Industry, senior EDF officials announced they would be investing the £200,000 at a public meeting in Diss last month, organised by Mr Bacon.

Earlier this month, EDF workers moved into the market town to begin the the long-term project of overhauling the town's electricity infrastructure.

The scheme will reinforce and improve the electricity network serving 2,200 customers in Diss and includes replacing 1,850m of high voltage underground cable, replacing a substation and installing new computerised equipment.

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The work will take place in three phases, with the first two expected to completed by the end of the summer. EDF could not say yesterday when work will start on the third phase, when it will be completed or what it involves.

Yesterday Mr Bacon said: “I was given the tour on Friday, which included meeting the project team on Skelton Road, to make sure the electricity company was doing what they promised at our February meeting.

“They are aware that people in Diss are not happy with the level of reliability of the service they've had over the years and I think they accept themselves it has not been good enough.

“We will have to wait and see whether these improvements sort out the problems. I shall be watching closely and if the improvements do not work I shall be straight back on their case.”

Clive Witherley, EDF Energy networks customer operations manager, said: “I am really pleased to have been able to organise this visit to show Mr Bacon of our commitment to ensuring the reliability of supply in Diss. We are really going the extra mile in Diss.”