Electricity firms will not be prosecuted for the power cuts that hit south London and Kent on 28 August and the West Midlands on 5 September. The energy minister, Stephen Timms, said findings from an investigation will be passed on to the electricity companies concerned "so that they can take the necessary action to enhance the robustness of their networks, and so make such occurrences less likely".

The investigation, carried out by DTI's Engineering Inspectorate, checked for compliance with the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002, and also looked at the security of electricity supplies to Network Rail and London Underground.

The inspectorate will hold talks with the companies to ensure that its recommendations are implemented.

Ofgem's investigation, which looks at whether any of the firms' statutory duties or licence conditions have been breached or are likely to be in the future, has yet to be concluded. The regulator could enforce a penalty on each of the firms if it believes there has been a breach.

The information gathered by the Engineering Inspectorate is commercially sensitive and the report cannot, therefore, be published.

Almost 40 shops and restaurants at the £200m Castlepoint Shopping Park in Bournemouth are using Greenings cable ladder for their electricity supplies. A 700 metre network of galvanised steel ladder, in widths from 150mm to 600mm, distributes power from a handful of substations on site.

The park occupies 16.5 hectares and includes 60,000 square metres of retail space in around 25 buildings. For easy access, the shops are arranged in a V-shape around a two-level car park with space for 3,000 vehicles.

Project contractor High Voltage Maintenance Services (HVMS) built five substations to cater for the park's electricity demand. it ran low-voltage cables from the transformers in the substations to feeder pillars, and then, on Greenings cable ladder, to central metering areas.

With the meters in just a few places, it is easy for the shopping park's landlord or regional electricity company to take meter readings for all the shops.

HVMS ran cables from the metering areas to each shop. Most of the cable ladder is outside, sheltered by the park's canopies and covered walkways.

Ofgem has abandoned its plan to charge firms for energy lost in transmission because it would have had no time to secure approval for the idea.

A judge last month threw out Ofgem's attempt to introduce the changes because of a procedural error on the regulator's part. This meant Ofgem would have needed to restart the entire change process again, whereas it had wanted to introduce the changes this April.

A statement from Ofgem says: "After careful consideration of the legal constraints, the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority is of the opinion that it is not legally possible for it to approve this Modification Proposal. This is because the relevant timetable set down in the Final Modification Report made its implementation conditional on a decision being reached by 31 March 2003."

ScottishPower, Scottish and Southern Energy, AES Drax and Teeside Power had campaigned for a judicial review of Ofgem's plans and, in November, won the right to a hearing (see Electrical Review, November 2003).

Ofgem argued that the charges would have encouraged firms to locate power stations nearer to its customers. The regulator said this would reduce the amount of power lost through transmission and thereby reduce costs and protect the environment.

Power companies, however, said the changes would discriminate against some of the companies located in the far north. They also argued such changes would penalise offshore wind farms.

Scottish and Southern Energy has announced its preferred route for a 400kV electricity transmission line, which must be built between the Highlands and the Central Belt of Scotland if the company is to meet government targets.

SSE says construction of the line and substations will cost around £200m. It hopes to begin work on the route in the first half of 2005, with the line operational by late 2007.

The 220km line will stretch from Beauly to Denny and will replace a 132kV line, which will be dismantled. Some 75% of the new line will run along the same route as the old one.

The chief executive of SSE, Ian Marchant, said: "The existing line was originally built to serve a very rural area with very low demand for electricity. It was not designed to cope with the large number of requests for connections to the electricity network that we are currently receiving from renewable energy developers.

"It is, therefore, vital that the wide support that exists for developing renewables in Scotland translates into a commitment to enabling this nationally-important infrastructure project to become a reality as soon as possible."

The route decision was reached after a 15-month study, in which SSE met with local authorities, statutory and non-statutory bodies and other interested parties. The company will enter another round of consultation on the proposed route and hopes to submit to the Scottish Executive in the third quarter of this year an application for consent to build the line.

An ION enterprise energy management system from Power Measurement is monitoring electricity production at Airtricity's Corneen wind park in Ireland.

Located on the Slieve Rushen Mountain in County Cavan, the site's two 1.5MW wind turbines produce 3MW of clean electricity for the Irish electricity grid, enough power to serve approximately 2,000 households.

Each turbine is equipped with an intelligent energy meter, which reports back to a PC workstation running Power Measurement's ION Enterprise software at the Airtricity headquarters in Dublin. According to Eddie O'Connor, chief executive of Airtricity, the energy management system performs three primary functions: Advanced power quality analysis, condition monitoring and revenue-certified energy metering.

The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has installed photovoltaic panels on his home to promote his Draft Energy Strategy, which calls for the Capital's homebuilders, businesses and homeowners to use solar power.

The strategy, which comes into force next month, outlines targets of 10,000 domestic photovoltaic schemes and 100 installations on commercial and public buildings. Passive solar design must be included in all planning applications referred to the mayor.

Many house builders are dismayed at the enormous costs this will entail when constructing properties and some say the money would be better spent on improving the efficiency of old housing.

But the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, Philip Sellwood, said: "Commitment from London developers and businesses, coupled with the mayor's personal and public interest in solar power, will boost the market for domestic solar installations across the country, improving the environment across Britain and globally."

The panels on the mayor's home should prevent half a tonne of CO2 from being emitted each year.

Twelve manufacturers have formed a company to manage the recycling obligations set out under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive.

The European law makes manufacturers responsible for discarded electrical and electronic consumer products and should come into effect in August 2005.

The company, called the Recycling Electrical Producers Industry Consortium, or Repic, includes firms such as Alba, Glen Dimplex, Hoover Candy and Philips. It should begin operating in spring.

The Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances and IntellectUK will help their member companies to establish Repic, with the Small Electrical Appliance Marketing Association offering support. The not-for-profit consortium hopes other firms will join. It is open to producers from the consumer electronics, domestic appliance and small appliance sectors. This also includes import agents and some retailers.

The government will ask all electrical producers to register as such between August this year and June 2005. The Department of Trade and Industry proposes that these producers each disclose their sales data so that market share and the subsequent responsibility for waste products be determined. In response, Repic will provide recycling services and help the authorities determine market size, so that producers do not take on unfair responsibility.

The 12 member firms will each supply £30,000 to launch the company and will provide a loan of £20,000 for two years. The founder member list will be open for any other firms to join until the end of March. There will be a founder membership fee of £10,000, with a lower rate for SMEs. After the 31 March deadline, however, the membership fee will be £30,000, or £6,000 for SMEs.

Over 200 other companies eligible to join REPIC will shortly receive a letter, which will explain the advantages of joining and invite them to sign up.

Peugeot's latest expert is available and the company says it has never been easier to own one. The new version has updated its image with a reworked front end and new interior. Added body side mouldings extending to the rear doors protect against bumps and knocks and the driver and passengers are similarly protected with three-point seatbelts and head/chest and side airbags.

The Expert is available as either a panelled van – with two load capacities of 815 and 900kg – or a five-seater combi. Two diesel engines are available: a 71bhp unit or a 110bhp HDI unit.

The HDi version has extended service intervals of 20,000 miles or two years. Peugeot claims that the reduced running costs this affords, allied with its low-rate financing, make owning an Expert easier than ever.

Exposure to devices that emit low-level magnetic fields, such as those created by hair dryers or electric razors, could damage brain DNA, according to scientists at the University of Washington.

Research also found that the damage created from brief exposure builds up over time.

Rats exposed to a 60Hz field for 24 hours showed significant DNA damage, and rats exposed for 48 hours showed even more breaks in brain cell DNA strands. The exposure also led to an increase in brain cell apoptosis - the process where a cell self-destructs because it is unable to repair itself.

The study builds on previous research and the combined findings show that the intensity of exposure can be as damaging as duration.

Henry Lai, a university research professor, and Narendra Singh, a fellow university bioengineer, both conducted the study. They believe that exposure to magnetic fields upsets the balance of iron in certain cells, creating an increase of free iron in the cell. This free iron undergoes a chemical reaction, which releases "free radicals" – charged atoms that attack cell structures such as DNA, lipids and proteins.

The scientists gave some of the rats drugs, either to neutralise free radicals or decrease free iron before exposing them to the magnetic field. As predicted, the drugs practically blocked the damaging effects. This implies that certain cells with higher iron content, such as brain cells, may be more vulnerable to damage caused by electromagnetism.

Lai does not want people to be alarmed at the findings, but he does urge some caution when electrical items are used, at least until further research is conducted.

"People should do what they can to limit their exposure to as little as possible," he said, "especially in relation to electrical appliances that are used very close to the body."

The study will be published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. It can also be accessed on the internet, at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2004/6355/abstract.html.

The British Wind Energy Association says the UK wind industry will power a million homes within the next two years.

Figures released this week by the association show a series of projects totalling over 1,000MW of new capacity – representing an investment of around £1bn – will be completed in that time. This will lead to total wind power capacity of over 1,500MW by the end of 2005.

The association says 22 wind projects are due to be built this year, providing a total wind capacity of 474MW. This is four times the total capacity created last year. The new developments include that at Scroby Sands near Great Yarmouth, which is the site of the UK's second large-scale development at sea.

A survey of five major developers revealed a predicted 560MW of onshore and offshore projects being built in 2005. This would take new build over the next two years to over a gigawatt, with the wind industry supplying 1.3% of UK electricity needs.

The chief executive of BWEA, Marcus Rand, said: "2003 was the year of consents: 2004 will be the year of build."

Stephen Timms today opened Microgen's Technology Centre in Peterborough. The centre develops and tests Microgen's micro combined heat and power units, AKA microCHP or domesticCHP. It is hoped that dCHP will revolutionise the home energy market by enabling customers to produce part of their own electricity while heating their homes – thus cutting fuel bills.

DCHP also helps meet the government's energy objectives.

Timms said the government's ambitious agenda for sustainable energy was a considerable challenge in which technology such as Microgen's could play an important role.

In addition, he underlined the benefits both for householders in terms of reduced bills and for the National Grid, upon which demand could be reduced at peak times.

It is thought a dCHP unit could save a typical UK household around £150 on annual energy bills and cut CO2 emissions by 1.5 tonnes per annum.

However, developers have called for a financial kick-start through an enhanced Energy Efficiency Commitment and for social housing providers to be allowed to write-down purchase costs against tax when leasing environmental technologies like dCHP.

The emerging technology has massive potential. Interested parties may wish to attend EPN’s 2nd dCHP conference in London on 8 June.

Until 26 March, delegates can book at the "early bird" discount price of £325. After that, the price is £375 including full documentation, lunch and refreshments. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

WF Electrical says an independent survey it commissioned has found quality service from their wholesaler is top of buyers' lists.

Buyers from various sectors – from SMEs to OEMs and from colleges to government departments – were interviewed and 85% said keeping promises regarding availability and delivery times came first. A meagre 5% said low prices were important.

WF says the results endorse its values of putting service before price to achieve customer satisfaction

Angus Fraser, managing director of Hagemeyer UK (WF's parent company) explains how the company is focusing on customer service in the forthcoming March issue of Electrical Times.