Friday, September 30

France Aims to Cut Energy Consumption 10% This Winter to Avoid Outages

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(Bloomberg) — The French government just drastically stepped up its target to reduce energy consumption this winter and avoid energy outages in an apparent bid to shake up public awareness.

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Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne urged households, businesses and local and national authorities to cut their power use by 10% compared to last year, according to a presentation sent to reporters following a press conference. Emmanuel Macron’s government had previously put forward a target to reduce consumption by that amount within two years. An aide of the Prime Minister confirmed the target.

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The target is particularly ambitious: In 2020, a year marked by the Covid pandemic and repeated shutdowns, total energy consumption of final users had dropped by 5.6%, according to the French ecology ministry.

France has spent and budgeted billion of euros to limit power and gas price increases and help poorer households pay their energy and gas bills and cope with an inflation that spiraled after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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But while the publicly-funded measures have brought some relief to consumers and helped damp inflation compared with the rest of the euro area, the government has warned that usage must be reduced to avoid unorganized energy outages.

Read more: France Caps Electricity, Gas Price Hikes at 15% for Next Year

On Wednesday, national power-grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite said it may have to issue alerts this winter to ask households, business and local government to reduce consumption during peak times. That’s a day after Energy Transition Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher ruled out any risk of a blackout that would result in the collapse of France’s power system, but said some organized load-shedding would be possible in the event of a power outage, depending on the weather.

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