Macron calls 'absurd' fears of chaos over possible blackouts this winter
President Emmanuel Macron called "absurd" fears that power outages would harm France's infrastructure this winter and insisted that the country would survive the cold despite the energy crisis gripping Europe, Reuters reported.
The first cold snap tests the resilience of the energy system in France, where state utility EDF faces a race against time to get corroded nuclear reactors back online.
"We must not scare people. We must stop all that," Macron said as he arrived at a European Union summit in Albania. "We will get through this winter, despite the conflict (in Ukraine)."
Telecom operator Orange (ORAN.PA) said emergency calls may not be possible in the event of prolonged outages, the French Banking Federation (FBF) acknowledged that ATMs would be affected.
A spokesman for Enedis, a public company and the largest power grid operator, warned that it may not be possible to exclude home users of medical equipment, such as respirators, from scheduled outages.
Macron said it was not the role of public bodies to "transmit fear". "This debate is absurd. The role of public authorities is not to spread fear nor to govern by fear".
Electricity prices in France are trading more than 5 percent higher than €500 per megawatt hour on Tuesday next week as temperatures drop below freezing, indicating that the market expects further supply cuts.
Nevertheless, the availability of nuclear power is improving, Rystad Energy analysts said.
"Total availability now stands above 60% (of the total power mix) for the first time in many months," Rystad Energy wrote in a briefing note. "Five more reactors are planned to come back online in the coming week, which will help with the current very tight French supply situation."