INVERNESS, Scotland, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – Investigators are still trying to ascertain why 200,000 homes in northern Scotland lost power earlier this week.
The blackout on Wednesday evening left almost a third of the country in darkness and was described by the distribution company, Scottish Hydro-Electric Power, as “incredibly severe.”
The precise cause of the fault still remains unknown and a number of scenarios are being considered.
A spokeswoman for the utility company told RIA Novosti that such an occurrence is extremely rare.
"Our network transmission is 99.9 percent reliable. This is highly unusual, given the scale of the area. Our engineers have not heard of such an outage in recent times,” the spokeswoman said.
The blackout affected communities over a 44,000-square-kilometer area, including island communities in Orkney and the Western Isles as well as larger population centers such as Inverness.
A spokesman for First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond told RIA Novosti the problem was “transient” and “such faults can be caused by foreign objects striking the lines such as debris in windy weather, lightning strike, pollution or equipment failures.”
The incident occurred just weeks after UK Government ministers warned that the “lights would go out” if Scotland backed independence, claiming the UK would halt renewable energy investment worth $3 billion.
But Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing claimed it was the rest of the UK that depends on Scottish electricity generation.
“Scotland is keeping the lights on for the rest of the UK at the moment,” he told RIA Novosti.
“The rest of the UK's capacity over its demand is very precarious. Scotland currently exports 26 percent of its energy to England and Wales and would continue to if our nation became independent,” Mr Ewing added.