The government caught up with the threat of power cuts during the winter

It’s been a little over six months since Elisabeth Borne arrived at Matignon. A little over six months since the former prefect, called upon to manage the climate emergency as much as the tensions over energy prices, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, measures day after day why the residence of the prime ministers is nicknamed “hell”. “I only read the positive notes! », she said jokingly. The latest of the Electricity Transmission Network (RTE) is far from it. Made public on Friday November 18, it was nevertheless read by the Matignon tenant and his teams.

Presenting the outlook for the electricity system for the fall and winter of 2022-2023, the text revives the scenario, described as “nightmarish” within the government, possible power cuts. According to RTE, there is now a risk ” raised “ tensions on the French electricity grid in January 2023, due to the slower-than-expected restart of EDF nuclear reactors. “Imagine France, the sixth power in the world, whose flagships of the nuclear industry have been praised for half a century! »we breathe in Bercy.

Put on the agenda of the meeting of forty-one ministers at Matignon the day before, the threat, yesterday deemed highly improbable, is therefore taken seriously, even if some communicators are surprised: so far, the instruction was not to panic the French. “Our job is not to worry but to prepare,” we explain to the office of the Prime Minister.

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“Our fear is the very harsh winter”

To envisage the worst, an interdepartmental crisis unit (CIC), known as anticipation, has been in place for a month already. Housed in the basements of the Ministry of the Interior, chaired by Aurélien Rousseau, director of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, and directed by the prefect Anne Clerc, it brings together once or twice a week representatives of the various ministries as well as managers of RTE and Enedis. The challenge: to target the risks and consequences of these possible cuts, modestly called “rotating load shedding”.

Concretely, the electricity would be cut for two hours in certain geographical areas to relieve the network. Load shedding is said to be rotating, because the “blackout” will not always affect the same territories. Hospitals or prisons will be excluded from these cuts from the outset. “We are currently working to maintain the electricity of the network cores, what we would have called telephone exchanges in the past, to preserve emergency calls”also underlines a government representative.

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