Thousands Left in the Dark in Germany as Floods Cut Power Supply

Deadly floods that devastated parts of western Germany have left thousands in the dark as utilities were forced to curb electricity supplies.

Germany utility giant EON SE cut power to 165,000 people in the western part of the country after heavy rainfall caused river levels to rise sharply, flooding the energy infrastructure in the West of the country. RWE AG halted operations at the Tagebau Inden open-cast coal mine, curbing supplies to its Weisweiler power plant now operating at reduced capacity.

The worst flooding in decades has killed 81 people and dozens are still missing after houses collapsed. Roads and bridges were badly damaged, with many rail lines and streets still blocked. Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged swift federal government assistance during her trip to the U.S. on Thursday.

“We are deeply concerned,” RWE said in a statement. “After heavy rains, the Inde River overflowed. Water penetrated into Tagebau Inden.”

RWE says there’s currently no time line for the flooded mine -- which produces 20 million tons of lignite a year -- to reopen. One worker is still missing, according to a company spokesman. E.ON said falling trees also hit power lines in the easter part of Germany, triggering supply outages in the area covered by its Mitnetz Strom subsidiary.

German power for same-day delivery surged on Friday to 200 euros ($236) a megawatt-hour this morning, more than doubled the same time yesterday, according to Epex Spot SE. The impact was muted on deliveries further out, a sign traders expect any tightness to ease.

While many smaller, family-owned businesses have been hit hard, the effects on Germany’s main industrial areas have been limited so far. BASF SE, the world’s largest chemical producer, has experienced some delays to receiving goods via barge and train, but these haven’t yet led to production outages, the company said.

Weather conditions should normalize next week, which may provide some relief, national weather forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst said Friday in its latest four-week forecast. But there could be more heavy rain in Germany from July 26 to early August, it said.

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