Reader Question: How sure is it that these power cuts will happen?
Whether or not planned, two-hour-long power cuts are carried out this year depends fully on the state of France’s electricity network, and whether supply is coming under strain.
This is more likely to happen this winter because of the ongoing tensions with major supplier Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and the fact that several of France’s nuclear reactors are currently out of action.
A tool called EcoWatt is being used to monitor the pressure on electricity supplies. It describes itself as ‘the weather forecast of electricity’ shows whether the electricity system is normal, strained, or very strained, signalled by a green, yellow or red colour attributed to each day,
If the system becomes strained, EcoWatt invites people to adapt their usage accordingly to avoid a red alert, which means that a power cut is inevitable unless consumption drops.
You can sign up to be notified either by text or through the EcoWatt app if supplies reach a red alert level by entering your contact details on the website.
Red alerts will be sent out three days in advance of the day in question.
Only if a red alert is issued will a controlled power cut be planned by electricity providers Enedis and RTE, although it could still be averted if demand falls.
Electricity network operators Enedis and RTE will publicise details of addresses which will be affected by power cuts at 17:00 the day before, via their websites.
Enedis has, for example, launched an online tool through which customers can search an address or postcode and see whether it will be included in a power outage.
Both companies have insisted that France could go the whole winter without power cuts occurring, especially if consumers continue to limit their usage.
RTE reported last week that general usage was down 8.3% compared to the average for the years 2014-2019.
It said that this was “the real impact of the restraint exercised by individuals and businesses,” even as temperatures drop below seasonal norms.
The government announced in October that it was aiming to reduce consumption by 10% compared to 2019 over the next two years, and by 40% by 2050.
The likelihood of power cuts also depends on how cold this winter is. The colder it gets, and the more people use their heating, the more likely it is that the network comes under strain and that a power outage becomes necessary.