Cambridge power grid upgrade will not need GCP funding as Ofgem accepts project ‘fully justified’

Cambridge’s power grid will be upgraded without the need for funds from the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP).

Two new substations will be built in East Cambridge and Trumpington to meet demand expected to triple by 2031 as thousands of new homes are built and jobs are created.

Cllr Elisa Mishini.  Photo: Keith Hebel
Cllr Elisa Mishini. Photo: Keith Hebel

The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) has reclassified the project as ‘fully justified’ following work by UK Power Networks and issued funding for this work.

This means that GCP will not have to fork out in order to upgrade.

In November 2021, its Executive Board approved the allocation of funds as part of its future investment strategy to fund the project, with the aim of recovering it.

Councilors admitted they were “uncomfortable” using GCP money in the project, but chief executive Rachel Stoppard said there was a risk that “nearly 6,000 homes and 270,000 square meters of workspace” would not survive without it.

Now GCP participation will be limited to ensuring that the scheme is linked to transportation and housing plans in the area.

UK Power Networks will obtain land and planning permission, then define cable routing from existing network infrastructure to new infrastructure with GCP support.

Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the Executive Board of GCP, said: “I am delighted to see this very important project progressing after extensive work and analysis by GCP to demonstrate the importance of upgrading our power grid.

“With thousands of new homes, jobs and an ever-increasing demand for electricity as we shift to vehicles and cleaner energy, these two substations will provide the energy we need for our growing region in the future.”

Grid demand is also expected to pick up as more people switch to electric vehicles and heat pumps begin to replace gas use in homes.

Colm O’Brien, Portfolio Manager for the Capital Program at UK Power Networks, said: “This work will be of huge benefit to the businesses and communities we serve in Cambridge and will help future-proof the city’s electricity requirements, so it’s an important moment.

“This year we will begin installing multiple conduits along the same route to launch four major energy projects, which is a way of combining functions to ensure we can help minimize any disruption to the work required.”

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