French power output down 4.7 GW as EDF workers protest restructuring

Reuters | Oct 17, 2019 at 2:43 PM

* Output down at five nuclear reactors

* EDF workers want restructuring plan abandoned

* Strike costly for EDF (Adds strike turnout, update on outages)

PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Around a quarter of employees at French utility EDF downed tools on Thursday in protest at a plan to restructure the state-controlled company, reducing power generation at several nuclear, hydro and gas-fired plants.

EDF said the production cut was likely to continue until the end of the national strike later on Thursday evening.

The cut in electricity production does not impact the grid or affect households, but reduced generation is costly for the heavily indebted EDF as it has to import any shortfall to supply its clients.

The data showed that electricity production was down at five nuclear reactors and two gas-fired generators.

Power generation was down at EDF-operated hydropower stations by 1.4 GW, with the cumulative outage due to the strike at 4.7 (gigawatts) GW by 1413 GMT.

French power grid operator RTE's data showed that peak electricity demand in France was expected at around 55.9 GW on Thursday. Total available generation capacity was at 54.8 GW.

The walkout is the second called by EDF's four main unions to protest the restructuring project, following a Sept. 19 demonstration, when a third of the company's workforce went on strike, cutting French power production by over 10%.

EDF workers are against plans steered by the French government to restructure and potentially split the group, with its nuclear power generation business set to be partly nationalised.

EDF has said that the restructuring proposals, originally scheduled to be presented by year-end, would likely slip into next year, as it awaits broader reforms of power regulations, which need to be co-ordinated with the European Commission.