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Six month wait for electricity is ‘unacceptable’

Mark McDermott with Cllr Paul Gallagher outside his new business premises in the Glebe. DR59

A LOCAL businessman believes that a wait of up to six months before his new retail premises can be provided with a suitable electricity supply, is unacceptable in the extreme.

Mark McDermott from Strabane had planned on reviving the shop at the Glebe, a premises that has been closed for some time. To that end, he made an application through NIE Networks for a new ‘phase 3’ connection to the new venture. That was 12 weeks ago and as yet, the local retailer says he has been given no indication of when he’ll be connected.

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“Basically, I was told there’s a possibility they might not be able to connect me up for six months,” Mr McDermott said.

“I probably have the application in for around 12 weeks now – a long time.

“They (NIE) explained that because it’s a ‘phase 3’ supply to run things like big refrigeration units, they would have to put a recording device on the substation behind the shop. As far as I know, they need to make sure the substation can handle the new load.”

He added, “There is already a single phase connection in here, so it’s not like I’m applying for a brand new connection.

“As well, the shop opening was supposed to be March 6 but because of this I had to push that date back to May. I don’t want to have to do that again, because it’s costing me more and more money.

“If they connected me up, I could be open within the week.”

Local Independent councillor, Paul Gallagher is calling on NIE Networks to make Mr Gallagher’s phase three connection a priority – particularly as the new venture is bringing with it new jobs.

“This man is investing his own money in this and his efforts have to be commended but a six month wait is a major obstacle when you’re trying to get a new business off the ground,” Cllr Gallagher said.

“I’m calling on NIE to give this case priority, especially as the business has the potential to create ten jobs.”

When contacted in relation to the matter, Helena McElrath, NIE Networks’ customer relations manager said a “load assessment” is due to be carried out this week.

“Due to the amount of electricity or ‘load’ that will be required for these premises we need to carry out a load assessment of the village to ensure that this new electricity connection won’t have any detrimental impact on electricity supplies to existing properties,” she said.

“The load assessment is being carried out next week and after that we will be able to provide a more accurate cost quote and work timeframe. To date the information we have provided has considered all possible outcomes of this assessment to ensure that the customer has a realistic outlook of the potential work involved.”

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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