French Power Crunch Is So Acute Carrefour Is Dimming the Lights
(Bloomberg) -- French supermarkets are joining a national effort to curb the country’s electricity consumption, as cold weather and nuclear reactor outages pushed domestic power prices to a 13-year high.
Carrefour SA said it was cutting power consumption Monday morning, heeding calls from France’s grid operator RTE to households and industries to reduce usage in order to tackle a surge in demand coupled with nuclear outages and colder weather. As many as 25 of state-run utility Electricite de France SA’s 56 nuclear reactors are offline, just as overnight temperatures in most of the country are set to fall below freezing.
The company is using methods like “reducing heating in offices, and dimming lighting in the group’s 400 stores across the country,” a spokeswoman told Bloomberg News.
Power deliveries between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Paris time surged to as much as 2,987.89 euros ($3,286) per megawatt-hour, while the average price for the entire day settled at 551.43 euros on the Epex Spot SE’s day-ahead auction, the most since a record set in October 2009. It was also high enough to trigger an increase of the maximum upper price limit on power exchanges across Europe.
Consumption-savings measures from households, companies and local authorities curbed peak demand by 800 megawatts on Monday morning, equivalent almost to the output of a nuclear reactor, the grid operator said in a statement. While RTE expected demand to peak at 73 gigawatts at 9 a.m. local time, it actually topped out at 71.6 gigawatts 15 minutes earlier, the network operator said.
Usage savings also came from activating contracts in which electricity users, such as manufacturers, are paid in exchange for reducing their consumption, RTE said. As a result, peak demand was met by about 63.6 gigawatts of domestic production and the rest from imports.
Households turned up electrical heating amid freezing temperatures across the country on Sunday night, which was the coldest for that period of the year since 1947, according to Meteo France. A return to warmer weather is expected Tuesday, with close to average temperatures seen, according to a report by forecaster Maxar Technologies Inc.
To ease the strain on supplies, EDF managed to round up 2 gigawatts of extra capacity on Monday from plants that usually generate power during the winter, a spokesperson for the company said.
Bengt P. Longva, a senior analyst at energy consultant StormGeo Nena AS, said that while power demand remains quite high, “the main issue here is the low nuclear output.”
French day-ahead power for Tuesday fell 44% to 308.30 euros on a milder weather forecast, with the peak-hour price seen at 448.90 euros on Epex.
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