Electrical Load Shedding In France: How Does It Work?

Due to strong tensions in the energy market, there is a risk of electricity shortages in France for the winter of 2023. In case of supply problems, power cuts and load shedding could occur. We explain to you how electricity load shedding works in France.

What is the definition of load shedding?

An electrical load shedding refers to a temporary, localized organized power outage to preserve the integrity of the electrical grid during peak loads.

The purpose of these power outages is to avoid a larger-scale outage on the power grid.

In France, load shedding operations are orchestrated by the Réseau de transport d'électricité or RTE. They can concern the entire metropolitan territory, except for Corsica.

When is the load shedding operation triggered?

In France, electrical load shedding is a measure of last resort used in the event of a red Ecowatt alert.

These cuts are organized only in the event of high tensions on the electrical network, when the French electrical system is no longer able to meet all needs.

According to French law, electrical load shedding is authorized in case of:
- a drop in the frequency of the electrical networks below 49 Hz
- voltage drops
- abnormal overloads on the network
- impossibility to ensure normal operating conditions.

How does electrical load shedding work?

In France, electricity load shedding is triggered by Enedis' regional control agencies and other local distribution companies.

These localized outages are organized in blocks of up to 2 hours, with a geographical rotation.

This is called 'rotating' load shedding because the entire national territory is not affected at the same time. The cuts are planned by geographical area of 2000 customers on average.

On the other hand, in a given area, the power cut concerns all customers (individuals and professionals) supplied by the same power line.

At what time can the power shedding take place?

These temporary cuts occur during peak consumption, i.e. in the morning between 8am and 1pm or in the evening 6pm and 8pm.

It should also be noted that electrical load shedding in France is not allowed on weekends. It is very rarely used in the evening after 8pm and never at night, except in exceptional situations.

Who is spared from load shedding?

In theory, electrical load shedding potentially concerns all French people. But, in reality, there are exceptions.

Indeed, these organized cuts may not affect certain sites defined as priority:
- hospitals
- emergency services
- police stations and gendarmerie brigades
- departmental fire and rescue services SDIS
- Prisons
- industrial sites at risk or of interest to national defense
- certain transport infrastructures

In each department, the list of non-destructible priority users is established by the prefect. This list must not represent more than 38% of the department's electricity consumption.

However, some areas, such as Paris and its inner suburbs, have a high concentration of priority infrastructures. This is why only 20% of electricity consumption can be cut off in Paris and its inner suburbs.

How to be informed of a possible load shedding?

When an electrical load shedding operation is scheduled, sector users are notified the day before around 5:00 pm.

In addition, the Ecowatt application and the monecowatt.fr website allow users to be alerted to a risk of a power cut (red Ecowatt alert) 3 days beforehand.

This 'electricity weather forecast' with a color code allows everyone to anticipate and act on their consumption to avoid power cuts.

In the event of an orange or red Ecowatt alert, it is recommended to adopt eco-gestures such as lowering the heating by one degree, reducing lighting, using household appliances outside peak hours...

The website cut-temporaires.enedis.fr also allows you to see who is affected by load shedding (see link below).

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Pxhere
Tags: load shedding, France, Electrical load, consumption, Power cut, Paris, police, emergency services, French people, theory, Rotation, gendarmerie, industrial, defense, transport, prefect, Concentration, weather forecast, color code, Orange, Enedis, network, energy market, winter, power outage, electrical grid, peak loads, power grid, Réseau de Transport d'Électricité, RTE, Corsica, resort, electrical network, French, french law, Frequency, electrical networks, hz, voltage, household appliances,
More informations: https://coupures-temporaires.enedis.fr/
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