First section of Beauly to Denny power line switched on

New electricity tower. Pic: BBC Alba The project to upgrade the Beauly to Denny line should be completed next year

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The first section of the revamped Beauly to Denny power line has been switched on two-and-a-half years after the project was given the go-ahead.

Beauly to Fort Augustus is the first part of the 137-mile (220km) transmission circuit to be electrified.

The 400,000 volt line triples the capacity of the existing system.

Six hundred new towers are being built - a reduction of 200 on the existing number. However, some towers are taller and reach heights of 65m (213ft).

Opponents to the upgrade have complained that the new towers will spoil mountain landscapes.

The project is expected to be completed in 2014 at an estimated cost of £600m.

Output rise

Meanwhile, SSE has reported a substantial rise in total electricity output from renewable sources, which include conventional hydro electric schemes, onshore and offshore wind farms and dedicated biomass plants.

In an interim management statement, the company said output reached 1,756 gigawatt hours in the three months to 30 June - up from 1,331 gigawatt hours in the same period last year.

SSE said this partly reflected "additional capacity being in operation".

The energy firm also reported a dip in the number of its electricity and gas customers in Great Britain and Ireland, from 9.47 million to 9.46 million.

However, it said it remained on course to deliver a full-year dividend increase above RPI (Retail Prices Index) inflation.

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