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Generators at the ready as power struggle intensifies

Generators at the ready as power struggle intensifies

Thursday 06 May 2021

Generators at the ready as power struggle intensifies

Guernsey Electricity is in talks with French electricity partners in an effort to maintain the island's energy supply, after one of the country's top officials threatened to switch off the Channel Islands power cable following a diplomatic crisis with Jersey.

Jersey's Government has been accused of adding a number of "unfair" conditions to the permits issued to French fishing vessels without advance notice.

French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin told the French Parliament that she was “disgusted” to learn of the conditions attached to the new system, and said the country was “ready to use… retaliatory measures” afforded to it under the UK-EU Trade Deal. 

This could include pulling the plug on the island’s electricity, which comes to the island from France via undersea cables. 

Jersey's Government has maintained that it acted in line with “legal advice” and “in good faith”. Crisis talks took place last night between senior politicians and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has "underlined his unwavering support for Jersey" and deployed two Royal Navy vessels to the Channel Island as a "precautionary measure".

The power struggle has sparked concerns over Guernsey's electricity supply, which comes from France via Jersey. GEL Chief Executive Officer Alan Bates has confirmed that any switch-off of Jersey's power supply would also knock out Guernsey's main source of electricity. 


Pictured: Last year, Guernsey imported more than 93% of its electricity, with on-island generators only used as a top-up during peak winter demand and as a back-up when the GJ1 inter-connector needs to be switched off for maintenance.

“Guernsey Electricity has a security of supply strategy where the role of the power station is to provide continuity of electricity supply in the event of any issue with the importation cable," he told Express

"We can reassure all consumers of the resilience of the local generation capability and there is sufficient capacity to meet all the island’s electricity demand."

The importation agreements are commercial contracts between the Channel Islands Electricity Grid - of which Guernsey Electricity is a member - electricity supplier EdF and the French electricity transmission operator RTE.

"We are progressing discussions with these partners to ensure that electricity supplies to Guernsey will continue to be maintained," said Mr Bates. 

Guernsey Electricity

Pictured: The island was reliant on the power station for much of 2019 after the previous subsea cable was irreparably damaged. 

Last year, Guernsey imported more than 93% of its electricity via cable, with on-island generators only used as a top-up at times of peak demand and as a back-up when the GJ1 inter-connector had to be switched off for maintenance.

Guernsey was reliant on the more expensive and pollutant power station for electricity supplies during 2019, after the GJ1 cable had to be replaced following numerous faults. 

"Guernsey Electricity’s long-term strategy is to achieve 100% sustainable energy for the island, which will be achieved through the importation of electricity and the local generation of renewables," said Mr Bates.

"The current situation again demonstrates the need for Guernsey to have its own direct cable link which would connect with the European grid via France and provide enhanced security of supply.”

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