North of Scotland

In a decade that celebrated the 50th anniversary of NoSHEB's existence, considerable changes were on the horizon, not least most of the property, rights, and liabilities of NoSHEB being vested into the new Scottish Hydro-Electric plc as it was now to be known.

In 1990 Hydro-Electric provided more electricity from renewable sources than any other provider in the UK. This bolstered the desire to increase generation access to the South and Welsh markets and together with Scottish Power plc, investment was made to refurbish and increase the capacity of the South / Scotland interconnector.

Image: Artist impression of new HQ in Perth

South of England

A New HQ and environmental policy

Meanwhile central business functions relocated from Edinburgh to the new Head Office in Perth which was to become a central location for the new Scottish Hydro-Electric. In 1993 the Company's first Call Centre was put into operation and building investment was ongoing with a new Training School in Dundee.

Concern for the environment had become a matter of increasing importance and in 1993 a new Environmental Policy was published outlining specific targets for each part of the business.

Image: 1993 Environmental policy and plan

Innovative ventures

Many new ventures were embarked upon throughout the 1990s: EPOS systems were introduced into retail shops; a new Total Control heating system was launched; Scottish Hydro-Electric gained 100% ownership of Keadby power station and by 1998 generation capacity owned or under long-term contract was 3,242MW in Scotland and 849MW in England and Wales.

In 1998, the Power Systems business in the north of Scotland delivered electricity for all licensed suppliers across 25% of the British landmass where just 2% of the population lived and a refurbishment investment of £47.1m was made to upgrade approximately 1,000 miles of distribution wires.

Image: New hydro-contracting business launched

End of the Century

The decade drew to a close with the launch of Scottish Hydro-Electric Contracting business which operated across Scotland. The Company had also invested £7m during this time to safeguard itself from any Millennium Bug issues.

Image: Scottish Hydro Electric logo

South of England

On 31 of March 1990 Southern Electric plc inherited the business of the Southern Electricity Board, primarily encompassing the distribution and supply of electricity. By way of celebration, staff were invited to join a share incentive scheme with 97.4% of them signing up.

Later in that year the Company invested hugely in a new appliance warehouse. It replaced six stores and was computer linked to all retail shops to allow delivery timescales to be agreed on the day of purchase.

Investment in the Environment

The 1990s was to see another wave of investment in the environment with a number of initiatives to restore storm damaged woodlands with the planting of new trees.

Around this time, the Company commissioned a study to be undertaken to explore potential renewable projects. The study included the development and commercialisation of technologies such as energy crops, farm or municipal waste, landfill gas, small hydro as well as wind and solar.

Image: Tree planting efforts

Expansion and acquisition

The mid 1990s was to become a time for expansion with set-up of the new Southern Electric Contracting Business.

Not long afterwards, the acquisition of Thermal Transfer (Holdings) Ltd was completed. TT brought specialism in the form of design, installation, and maintenance of environmental control systems. And, in 1993 a three-year major investment was made to develop a fully integrated customer computer systems with IBM.

Southern Electric's Transmission and Distribution businesses were merged into a single Power Systems function with significant benefits being made in efficiencies.

‘Hot Hand’ technique

Later that year Southern Electric was to be the first electricity company to pilot a new method of working on high voltage schemes. The new 'hot hand' technique allowed suitably protected staff to work on high voltage equipment without disconnecting customers.

 Image: Demonstration of 'Hot Hand" technique

The partnership begins

Scottish and Southern Energy emerged as one of the top five energy companies in Britain following the no-premium merger of Scottish Hydro-Electric and Southern Electric on 14 of December 1998.

Image: Cover of first nrg staff magazine

Later that year a new internal communication channel was launched under the banner 'nrg' bringing together previous Southern Electric and Scottish Hydro-Electric versions.

By the end of the decade the Scottish and Southern Energy Group was marketing under the brand names Southern Electric and Scottish Hydro-Electric in their respective areas. And, responding to the opportunities presented by the opening of the energy markets, a number of new services, including, Southern Electric Gas, Scottish Hydro-Electric Gas and partnerships with Argos, Airmiles and a green tariff, Acorn, were all established.

Image: Partnership between Argos and Southern Electric