The government on a crest line facing the risk of power cuts

The image of families lighting themselves up by candlelight in France emanates from reports from Ukraine, where millions of civilians are plunged into darkness and cold. One country is at war, the other lives in peace, but the symbol of the match is coming back to government advisers worried that the French will have to use it this winter.

Matignon wondered about the right time to prepare the general public for the scenario of targeted and temporary power cuts. Until, at mid-November, the operator of the RTE electricity network warns of a risk ” raised “ of tensionsin January 2023, due to the prolonged maintenance of nuclear reactors.

The government therefore made known the details of the plan outlined at the end of August. As in times of the pandemic, this Thursday 1is December saw Olivier Véran reconnect with crisis communication that accommodates people to the worst, while ensuring that the worst can be avoided. “We are not announcing to the French that there will be cuts”cleared the government spokesman, on BFM-TV.

Read also: Electricity: rotating load shedding, canceled trains and metros, closed schools… the government asks the prefects to anticipate possible cuts

But if necessary, 60% of the population will be able to undergo “rotating load shedding” of a maximum of two hours, on weekdays, during consumption peaks between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., or between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Everyone can register on the Ecowatt site, which indicates the “electricity weather” of the country using the green, orange or red LEDs. The day before at 5 p.m., the persons concerned will be alerted if their home is part of the offloaded zones. A cut will affect up to 4 million inhabitants at the same time, in various places in France, in an effect “leopard skin”.

A potential domino effect

On Thursday, the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, asked the prefects to orchestrate their services so that everything is ready, everywhere. According to its nine-page circular, the sites essential to the continuity of the life of the nation – hospitals, fire stations, police stations and police stations, prisons, military bases… – will not be deprived of electricity. Each department draws up a confidential list. “Once we exempt these sites, there won’t be enough gigawatts for everyone. It will make people unhappy”, urge the prefect of a rural and cold department. Especially since the same household could be affected several times by load shedding.

The approximately 4,000 people at high vital risk will be identified to ensure their medical follow-up. The offloaded schools will not open in the morning. Trains and subways may be removed to avoid blockage in the middle of the track. A potential domino effect that would freeze economic activity here and there. “We are not in a disaster movie”wanted to reassure Olivier Véran, adding that the traffic lights will stop working in places, and that“it is not impossible that we cannot withdraw cash”.

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