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    Concern grows in France over possible electricity blackout


    December 7, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras

     

      The French government and its president, Emmanuel Macron, are devoting the last few hours to trying to defuse the fear of power cuts, and the political controversy that has accompanied it, which they themselves had contributed to create with the presentation of a contingency plan.

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      "The impression has been given that there will be cuts next week" and "all that is surreal", declared this Wednesday the Minister of Ecological Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, in an interview to the BFMTV channel.

      The minister tried to correct the shot of the Government's own communication, which last week detailed a device prepared to face possible interruptions of electricity supply due to low nuclear production, since only 36 of the country's 56 nuclear reactors, which normally generated 70 % of the current, are in operation.

      "The fact that we are working (on the hypothesis of cuts) does not mean that they are going to happen", he justified himself after having also insisted that "the concern is to be prepared for all eventualities".

      In the same vein, the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, stressed in another interview to the RTL radio station that there is no reason to panic and insisted on the idea that "everyone is mobilized to produce the maximum of electricity", and at the same time "the good news" is that consumption is falling.

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      These interventions follow Macron's own on Tuesday in Tirana, where he was participating in the European summit on the Balkans and, skipping the rule of not talking about French politics when he is abroad, wanted to send an angry message about how this issue was being handled.

      "Enough of all that!" declared Macron in a raised tone before adding, "We are a great country, we have a great energy model, we are going to endure this winter despite the war. I ask everyone to do their job."

      In addition to calling the debate of the last few hours "stupid", he stressed that "fear scenarios are not for me. We remain united and move forward."

      The network operator RTE has put forward various scenarios depending on whether the shut-down nuclear reactors fail to start up as the government has asked state-owned power utility EDF to do, or if the winter is particularly cold and France is unable to import power from other countries such as Germany or Spain, as it is currently doing.

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      RTE does not envisage general blackouts and considers unlikely the scenarios in which it would be necessary to proceed to cuts of a couple of hours in some sectors (which would exclude hospitals among many other strategic facilities), but does not rule them out.

      In case of voltage, the risk of outage (always limited to two hours and a limited number of sectors) could be avoided with reductions in consumption of between 1 and 5% in the central scenario and up to 15% in the most extreme case.

      Last week, electricity consumption in France fell by 8.3% compared to the average of the preceding five years, a sharper decline than in previous weeks and which is mainly due to industry, as private individuals and the service sector are reducing demand less.

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