French Government Asks EDF to Restart Nuclear Reactors Early
(Bloomberg) -- The French government asked Electricite de France SA to restart some nuclear reactors earlier than planned in order to help with a winter energy crunch across Europe.
Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili said on France Info radio that she had asked EDF Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy in a meeting on Friday to restart more quickly than planned some reactors that were halted for maintenance and scheduled to restart in mid-January.
“I asked that EDF employees work to reopen them earlier in order face any possible shortages,” Pompili said.
The pressure on France’s largest power generator follows the announcement on Wednesday of new maintenance stoppages at EDF’s atomic facilities, which sent electricity prices to fresh records. Companies and households were already struggling to cope with high energy costs and the news raised concerns about potential blackouts in the event of cold snaps in the coming months.
Pompili said on Sunday that there wouldn’t be any blackouts in France since, in addition to the early reactor restarts, the country had contracts with some companies in which they agreed to cut production during peak demand hours in exchange for payments from the government. Finally, in case of extreme cold, France is able to reduce the voltage delivered in a way that is barely perceptible, Pompili added.
More than a quarter of EDF’s 56 atomic reactors are currently halted, an unusually high number for this time of year, because the pandemic has disrupted the utility’s maintenance program. The situation deteriorated Wednesday when EDF said it needed to halt two atomic reactors and prolong stoppages for two others for repairs and safety checks.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.