by Jez Bond

On Friday we discovered that EDF energy – or UK Power Networks as they are now called – were unable to provide us our requested power supply.

We had applied for a higher supply to accommodate our increased demand – lighting rigs, air conditioning, lift etc. They had originally told us that in order to meet these needs they would have to install a substation (basically a room full of some electrical kit) in our building as there was no more capacity in the street.

We quickly explained that we could neither afford the cost nor the space required by this kit – it has to be at ground floor level with ventilated doors providing direct access onto the pavement and is around 3 metres by 2.5 metres. The engineer who visited us on site then suggested that if they upgraded their equipment to maximum capacity we could have an increased supply – although not as high as we originally requested. We therefore reduced our loading, allocating a budget to investing in more expensive ultra energy efficient light fittings, air conditioning units and low energy stage lights. Whilst these are all things we were planning to do anyway we didn’t want to be in a situation where we were pinching every last amp and didn’t have some room to breathe.

So on Friday they hit us with the news that the extra promised capacity was no longer available. Some months ago there was a few weeks’ lapse in communication where they didn’t respond to our letter and email relating to changes to the contract (they had the project leader and project name listed incorrectly) and they are claiming that, during this time, the validity period of the quote expired. Seemingly, another development (on Stroud Green Road) came and paid for our reserved capacity back in November.

Unfortunately it’s not a company where anybody really has a care about their conduct or a good sense of customer service. We’ve heard stories from our M & E engineers that not only are they constantly known to be a nightmare to deal with but when you do go above their heads it often just makes things worse. And what can you say to them when nobody actually cares? They aren’t going to accept any responsibility and if they do they aren’t going to apologise and if, by some miracle, they do, they won’t do anything about it.

But we must remember the words of The Dude in The Big Lebowski “Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

So what next? Well the only positive thing that came out of today’s meeting is that they may be able to provide a little bit more power allocated to the flats we are creating above the front portion of the building. That way all of the current supply can be used for the theatre. But the options are either: substation, sue/escalate complaints or Apollo 13. We really don’t want a substation – it would eat up all of our frontage which is detrimental to our cafe bar. We will sue and/or escalate the complaint – but, let’s face it, that’s hardly going to resolve the matter in the next few months, let alone weeks. We are left with Apollo 13:

“We gotta turn everything off. Now. They’re not gonna make it to reentry.

What do you mean ‘everything’?

With everything on, the LEM draws 60 amps. At that rate, in 16 hours the batteries           are dead – not 45. And so’s the crew. We gotta get them down to 12 amps.

Twelve amps!

How many? You can’t run a vacuum cleaner on 12 amps, John.”

And of course it’s a true story and they did it, miraculously all surviving! So over to Bernard, our Gary Sinise… let’s run this theatre on the power of a vacuum cleaner!

Watch this space…

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