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January 15, 2008

Islanders finally get to switch on at the mains

The 87 residents of the island of Eigg have worked long and hard for past five years to establish their own power supply. Getting a connection from the national grid has never been an option due to cost and so the islanders have had to build their own generating station which will be powered by a mixture of wind, solar and hydro.


Residents of the tiny Hebridean island of Eigg are counting down the days until they get mains electricity for the first time.

The new environmentally friendly power source, nicknamed “Eiggtricity”, will come from a £1.5m solar, wind and hydro generating station that has been built on the island.

The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust has formed a company to operate the new network, which will provide electricity to the island’s 87 residents. Most of the money for the scheme has been raised through residents’ donations and a grant from the EU’s regional development programme
The network was due to be switched on before Christmas, but bad weather and technical problems have caused delays.

The secretary of the trust, Maggie Fyffe, 58, said: “We have been working on this for more than five years and it is going to make a massive difference to people here, most of whom have to rely on dirty, expensive and unreliable diesel generators.

“Laying a cable across the sea from the mainland would have been much too expensive so we had to set about organising our own supply. We finally got all the money together just over a year ago and since then the biggest job has been laying cable to people’s houses, which are scattered all over the island.”
Simon Helliway, 55, who runs the Glebe Barn hotel, moved to Eigg 32 years ago. He said: “We took the lack of electricity as an exciting challenge early on. That novelty has worn off and you would like to be able to make a cup of tea without worrying about the power source. It will make a massive difference to us … The new supply will bring us into the 21st century at last.”