France will not escape it. Organized blackouts, also called rotating load shedding, are no longer a question of “if” but of “when”. In its latest forecasts, published on Friday November 19, the operator of the French electricity transmission network RTE is particularly worried about the months to come, explaining: “This year, the period of vigilance begins exceptionally in the fall and now extends over several months”.
The company only foresees “a few red EcoWatt signals” over the next six months and excludes any blackout, specifying: “When the electrical system is very tight, the risk of a blackout cannot be completely excluded, but it could be avoided by lowering national consumption (…) Extreme situations (which would combine all the unfavorable hazards) are not the most probable”. If he wants to be reassuring, the manager nevertheless warned about the month of January, which presents a “high” risk of tensions and therefore of power cuts.
In particular, the temperatures which are likely to drop a notch from the beginning of the year 2023, in the heart of winter. In addition to the weather, there is a lack of energy, because EDF should be able to supply only 40 gigawatts at this time, whereas, as Emmanuelle Wargon explained on France Info, “we are rather around 50, or even maximum of 60 gigawatts” usually at this time of year.
The situation is now managed by an interministerial crisis unit chaired by Aurélien Rousseau, director of Elisabeth Borne’s cabinet, explains BFMTV. It includes managers from RTE and Enedis, whose objective is to assess the social and economic consequences of rotating load shedding. Who will be affected by these organized cuts? Who can escape it? How will the French be warned? Here’s what we know.