What to expect from today's test run of power cuts in France

Enedis, RTE and local prefectures are running tests to prepare for possible cuts in January

A photo of a large electricity pylon against a wintry sky
The power cut tests will not actually cause any loss in power, and are instead simulations of possible scenarios
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Electricity companies Enedis and RTE are set to test power cut plans today (Friday, December 9) in preparation for possible measures this January.

National simulation

Enedis and le Réseau de transport d’électricité (RTE) are working with local prefectures to simulate measures that could go ahead next month. The government sent a notice to prefects on November 30.

It said: “A national test is planned by Enedis and RTE on December 9, to which the prefectures will be associated in the form of a tabletop exercise.”

The test will instead simulate the power cuts on computers to gauge possible effects. Different models will be tested, along with variations in the weather and electricity production levels. The groups will also create maps to allow them to monitor low electricity supply and how other variables affect it.

However, contrary to some reports, today’s tests will not cause power to drop anywhere and there are no plans for a nationwide electricity cut at any point.

Enedis said that it actually conducts similar tests all year so as to prepare for different eventualities.

It said: “To prepare for snow storms or other [events], we simulate scenarios that allow us to get ready, so things work properly. The result is that when a storm arrives, everything works well on the ground.

“This time, it’s an exercise linked to potential difficulties in current supply,” it told Midi Libre,

Power cut plans

It comes as France is preparing for the possible eventuality of power cuts this January, if electricity demand exceeds supply. This is largely due to many nuclear power stations not being in production due to repairs and maintenance.

The power cut plans include limiting cuts to two hours, not cutting off an entire department in one go, maintaining power to priority buildings such as hospitals and gendarmerie stations, and not cutting power to people who are on the priority list because they rely on electronic medical devices.

The cuts will only happen if the network comes under too much strain and there is a risk of an uncontrolled blackout.

Read more: At what times would controlled power cuts occur this winter in France?

Read more: Power cuts in France: what plans for transport, lifts and healthcare?

EDF electricity consumption down 10%

However, electricity supplier EDF has already reported that electricity consumption is down 10% in a year, reducing the chance that the network will come under unmanageable pressure.

It also said that the number of people logging on to the electricity consumption monitoring app ‘EDF et Moi’ had doubled in 2022 compared to 2021.

Marc Benayoun, executive director of EDF in charge of clients, told FranceInfo: “We have seen a notable drop, which is in response to government campaigns to ask people to save electricity, and which is responding to our advice and tips we’ve taught our clients to reduce their consumption.

“This is a very strong response, over and above our expectations.”

He said that the drop was linked to “the fact that people in France understand that it is possible, with a few small changes, to reduce their electricity consumption”. This includes turning down the thermostat in your home, turning off lights, and turning off appliances instead of leaving them on standby.

EDF said that its ‘EDF et Moi’ app was used by “seven to nine million clients” and that “since January 2022, we have recorded 140 million logins. That’s huge, and double compared to 2021”.

He also said that businesses have made an effort to save energy too. “Business customers can select a temporary reduction of production or adjustment of their production plan.

“A customer who decides to do a maintenance shutdown for a month in the winter instead of the summer could lower their electricity bill by 30%.”

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