Power utility Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said yesterday that electricity production at the troubled Glendoe hydro station could restart in the first half of next year.
The £160million station in the hills above Loch Ness was closed in 2009 after a rockfall blocked the main tunnel carrying water from the reservoir in the Monadhliath Mountains above Fort Augustus to the turbine hall.
The incident came just a few weeks after the Queen officially opened the station at Fort Augustus.
Yesterday, SSE said two tunnels which were required to bypass the blockage had been completed.
A 985-yard tunnel will divert water around the blockage, while a 600-yard passage for access has also been drilled. Perth-based SSE said it expected to refill the reservoir towards the end of winter and electricity generation should resume in the first half of 2012.
Earlier this year, the company said more than 200 people were working around the clock to get production back on track at Glendoe, which was the first new large-scale conventional hydro-electric plant in the UK in more than 50 years.
Initially, it was expected that the 100-megawatt site would be closed for only a few weeks, however, the target date got pushed back several times because of the scale of the work required to make the plant operational again.
SSE also said turbine installation would resume at its Greater Gabbard offshore windfarm in Suffolk in September as planned despite a dispute with contractor Fluor.
SSE said Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds, in which it has a 50% stake, had been told it had a robust legal defence against Fluor’s claims it was owed around £300million for extra work it had to carry out.
Meanwhile, construction work for SSE’s £500million upgrade of the Beauly-Denny power line is expected to start later this year.
SSE said the replacement line, which will be mounted on 600 pylons and transmit electricity generated by wind, wave and tidal power, was likely to be completed in 2014.