Light fantastic! Residents on remote island get full electricity for the first time

March 25, 2013 | by | 0 Comments

A remote island was celebrating today after getting 24-hour power for the first time.

Residents on the Isle of Muck first received electricity in 1970 but have been rationed to just ten hours of electricity per day for the last 40 years.

Islanders are forced to turn off the electricity between 11am and 5pm and then later between 11.30pm and 7.30am.

The island of Muck will have 24hour power for the first time thanks to wind turbines and solar panels

The island of Muck will have 24hour power for the first time thanks to wind turbines and solar panels

But now there are six new 5KW wind turbines and 30KW solar panels powering the island – the smallest of four historic Small Isles off the west coast of the Scottish mainland.

The 38 islanders on Muck have praised the move and are looking forward to brighter future after decades of reading by candlelight at night, washing clothes by hand and being left on tenterhooks when they missed the ends of films because their televisions cut out.

Jenny MacEwen, 68, who runs the island’s tea room and craft shop, said: “I couldn’t even count how many times the TV went off just before the end of a film.

“The most recent one was when I was watching Pretty Woman and it was just so frustrating to miss the end – although in this case I could guess what happened.

“But now that we have the power 24 hours-a-day I’ll never have to miss the end of a film ever again and I’ll be looking forward to Pretty Woman coming back on.

“In general terms though, having the power all the time has been such a boost to us in the tearoom.

“It was a nightmare having to turn the fridges right down to the minimum and hoping that we didn’t have to open them up to get something out.

“But I suppose we just got on with it. It wasn’t ideal and we just had to rethink how we were going to do things.

“I think this will modernise the island and make it a more attractive prospect for people moving here and also for tourists.

“It won’t be such a culture shock for people coming from the mainland any more.”

Jenny’s daughter-in-law and mum-of-two, Ruth MacEwen, 35, added: “We’ve just come through winter and nursing a baby when you haven’t got power between 11.30pm and 7.30am is not easy.

“We use candles and tilley lamps at night but getting the children up and fed and ready for school before the lights came on was a bit of a challenge.

“Of course you manage and adjust your life around it but the power restrictions did affect every part of life.

“It was a rush every morning to get the washing on in time so that you could do a cycle before the machine cut out.

“The new system is brilliant.”

The new power scheme, funded by a £978,840 lottery grant, was set up by the Isle of Muck Community Enterprise Company which all adults on Muck are a member of.

Ewen MacEwen, a director of the Isle of Muck Community Enterprise Company and owner of the island, said he expects the island’s tourist industry to grow now that the two B&Bs and a hotel will no longer have to restrict the use of their fridges and freezers.

He said: “It’s quite something to see it come to fruition.

“The situation had made it impossible to run a remote business from here, but that’s all going to change.”

Muck is about 2.5 miles wide from east to west and only has one road going from the main settlement at Port Mor and a farm at Gollanach.

It is believed the island was occupied as early as the bronze age and the population peaked at about 300 in the early 19th century.

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