French homes may have to go without electricity for up to TWO HOURS a day this winter

French citizens may have to go two hours a day without electricity in a worst-case-scenario outlined by the operator of its national grid.

RTE, the electricity system operator of France, gave a rundown on what an extreme winter could look like across the country, as residents prepare for a harsh turn of the season after Russia cut off natural gas exports to EU countries.

A base case scenario is that there will be no issues with supply, but a colder winter than normal could see factories shut down some of their production lines, or cease production for one day of the week.

A more extreme scenario is that the voluntary decreases from businesses are not enough.

Households could then see planned power cuts of up to two hours in the evenings or early mornings, according to an interview Thomas Veyrenc, executive director of RTE, gave to BFM TV.

He said in the medium scenario ‘we will ask for voluntary reductions in consumption, first of all from the companies with which we are currently signing partnerships.’

French electricity transmission system operator RTE (Reseau de Transport d'Electricity) employees work on the renovation of very high voltage lines around Areches-Beaufort in a file photo. French citizens have heard they may have to go two hours a day without electricity in a worst-case-scenario this winter

French electricity transmission system operator RTE (Reseau de Transport d’Electricity) employees work on the renovation of very high voltage lines around Areches-Beaufort in a file photo. French citizens have heard they may have to go two hours a day without electricity in a worst-case-scenario this winter

Veyrenc made clear that the worst case scenario is ‘very, very unlikely’ and that a blackout of the entire grid is not possible.

France is launching an app to alert stores of the level of strain on the electric grid, called Ecowatt.

Set to launch at the end of September, it will use a traffic-light system to warn citizens of potential power cuts, and recommend ‘eco-friend actions’ such as turning the thermostat down.

Home to the world’s biggest fleet of nuclear reactors after the United States, France is less exposed than its neighbours to a cut in Russian gas supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions.

But an unprecedented number of reactor outages has driven French nuclear power output to a 30-year low, adding to the continent-wide energy crunch.

The problems with France’s nuclear reactors will make the winter worse if they are not resolved, said Veyrenc.

‘There is a crisis in nuclear [and hydroelectric] production in France,’ he said, adding that the ongoing drought has decreased hydroelectric production, the second largest source of electricity for the country.

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech on September 14. France has already spent billions on measures to dampen the impact of surging energy prices in the market

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a speech on September 14. France has already spent billions on measures to dampen the impact of surging energy prices in the market

France is planning to buy additional electricity from Germany to maintain supply if necessary. 

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Wednesday that France will cap power and gas price increases for households at 15% next year.

The caps will cost the state €16billion (£14billion) and prevent household bills from more than doubling.

The state will also persist with grants for the poorest, with a cheque of up to 200 euros for 12million households.

Borne said the new cap on gas prices would take effect in January, while the new electricity cap would follow a month later.

An unprecedented number of reactor outages has driven French nuclear power output to a 30-year low, adding to the continent-wide energy crunch. Nuclear power group EDF chief Jean-Bernard Levy told lawmakers that repair work on reactors affected by corrosion were 'on track'

An unprecedented number of reactor outages has driven French nuclear power output to a 30-year low, adding to the continent-wide energy crunch. Nuclear power group EDF chief Jean-Bernard Levy told lawmakers that repair work on reactors affected by corrosion were ‘on track’

‘We are determined, just like at the beginning of the crises that we face, to act, adapt and protect the French people and our economy’, Borne told a press conference.

Earlier, the European Union’s executive outlined plans to raise more than $121billion from energy firms to help shield households and businesses from spiralling prices that threaten economic recession and insolvencies.

France has already spent billions of euros on measures to dampen the inflationary impact of surging energy prices in the market.

It capped the increase in regulated power prices this year at 4% and forced state-run utility EDF to sell more electricity to rivals well below market rates. It also froze regulated residential gas prices at October 2021 levels.

Households with gas heating will, on average, pay 25 euros more each month instead of an extra 200 euros without a price-cap, in 2023, the government forecasts.

Advocates of the government strategy point to France’s inflation rate, the lowest in the European Union in August at 6.5% in EU-harmonised terms. Some critics say the caps are unsustainable and will mean financial pain later.

RTE said earlier it will be on alert to monitor market developments from November, or sooner if needed, it added. RTE usually starts its winter monitoring in January.

‘Compared to other European countries, France should be structurally in a less difficult position,’ RTE said.

Nuclear power group EDF chief Jean-Bernard Levy told lawmakers that repair work on reactors affected by corrosion were ‘well on track’ and that the utility hoped to reach around the same nuclear output levels as last winter.

Gas grid operator GRTgaz said margins would be tight but the grid would not suffer shortages under its base scenario.

An unusually cold winter could result in a deficit equivalent to 5% of the country’s needs, it said.

Public reaction to the 15% price cap on household energy costs was mixed.

‘Is 15% enough? We will see, but it’s not bad’, said student Mohamed Ben Hellal, who lives with his parents.

School teacher Nadege Figarol said tough times lay ahead: ‘We are being thrown into a new world, that’s what they are telling us.’

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