ScottishPower has unveiled plans to create 2,500 jobs with a £5.2 billion investment in upgrading its power distribution network.
The company has submitted plans to regulator Ofgem that it says will support a transition to a low carbon economy in the UK.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The investment will see inspection and maintenance work carried out on 65,000 kilometres (40,000 miles) of underground cables, 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) and 30,000 substations between 2015 and 2023 to improve services for 3.5 million customers in central Scotland, Merseyside and north and mid Wales.
Many of the cables and stations were built between the 1950s and 1970s, and are approaching the end of service, the company said. A focus would also be on reinforcing power lines in rural areas to prevent power cuts caused by severe weather.
If approved, it would be the largest investment by ScottishPower in its distribution network. A £2.6 billion project to improve efficiency and reliability in parts of the network started this year and will last until 2021. About £90 million of the new investment would be spent on the recruitment and training of the 2,500 people needed to make the upgrades over the eight-year period, the electricity company said.
Ofgem will examine the plans to ensure customers are getting the best value and a decision is due in November.
ScottishPower Energy Networks chief executive Frank Mitchell said: "We have a unique opportunity to completely modernise our infrastructure and create a blueprint to support growth for generations to come. Millions of homes and businesses in our network areas rely on a safe and secure supply of electricity. Through high levels of maintenance, we currently have reliability on average of more than 99%.
"However, to keep driving improvements and deliver more advanced and smarter infrastructure, which will bring real benefits for customers, we need to invest significantly in our network. This £5.2 billion investment will create thousands of highly skilled jobs, as we will need a new generation of engineers and technicians to deliver the upgrades. We have already started recruiting and we are also investing in partnerships with educational establishments to encourage more people to benefit from the opportunities in our industry."
ScottishPower also said it will improve its customer services by doubling compensation payments for customers who lose power for extended periods from 2015.
Customers listed on the company's priority services register will also be automatically offered accommodation and hot food if they are without power for more than 12 hours during severe weather.
Five of the most fascinating companies
ScottishPower plans £5.2bn upgrade
Not many companies have films made about them. But the story of social networking site Facebook attracted enough attention to interest Hollywood, resulting in the 2010 film The Social Network. The interest was not just due to the immense popularity of the Facebook website, which was created in its earliest form by Harvard University student Mark Zuckerburg in 2004, though. It was also a result of the legal wrangling between Zuckerburg and fellow Harvard students Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the social networking site ConnectU and accused Zuckerberg - who worked for them before creating Facebook - of copying their ideas and coding. In something of a damp squib ending, however, the case was dismissed due to a technicality in March 2007 without a ruling being made.
Most of the companies on this list are household names. However, comparatively few people have heard of Olam International, despite it being one of the world's largest agricultural commodity companies.
In fact, it produces enough cotton to keep everyone in the world in socks (three pairs per person, per year).
Fans of chocolate bars such as Mars are also sure to have consumed chocolate made from beans handled by Olam - they just don't realise it.
Headquartered in Singapore, Olam was founded in 1989. It now purchases ingredients such as coffee and cocoa from around 3.5 million smallholder famers based in emerging markets around the world. This enables it to work with communities in rural Africa and Asia on everything from productivity to environmental impact, resulting in a potentially huge impact on some of the world's poorest people.
Love them or hate them, Starbucks coffee shops are everywhere nowadays. Hardly surprising when you consider that the company has opened an average of two stores a day since 1987 (despite having to close some locations down too).
However, back in 1971 there was just one Starbucks coffee shop, in Seattle, Washington.
Named after Starbuck, the first mate on the whaling ship in the novel Moby Dick, the shop originally sold roasted coffee, but did not brew coffee to sell.
Now, though, you can get everything from a blueberry muffin to a mocha frappuccino from your local Starbucks store.
According to the company the white ribbon was introduced under the name in 1969. When competitors first entered the market, Coke made much of its curved bottle design which distinguished it from those that followed. As fewer and fewer people drank from bottles, the ribbon was produced as an alternative distinctive curve.
According to mokokoma, the apple is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. There is some question as to whether the bite taken out of it is a play on the word byte, symbolism of the fruit being eaten and the knowledge imparted, or just to make it look more like an apple and less like a cherry tomato.