If temperatures drop at the start of the year, the threat of blackouts, which has been predicted for some time, could re-emerge, although the drop in consumption in recent weeks has reduced the risk from high to medium. What awaits us? How to prepare? What should I know in the event of a power outage? We take stock of the questions that arise.
Why these cuts?
On 1 December, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne sent a circular to the prefects to prepare the country for possible blackouts this winter. There are fears of grid strain, while several nuclear reactors were unavailable and the weather forecast announced a chilly end to the year. The warmer temperatures of recent weeks, the electrical connections between European countries, the return to availability of reactors and, above all, the significant energy savings achieved overall since the beginning of December have made it possible to reduce the risk from high to medium.
How are forecasts made?
It is RTE (electricity transmission network) that controls the balance between production and consumption at national level. For Métropole de Grenoble, GreenAlp, a subsidiary of GEG, provides electricity distribution. “In the case of a tight forecast, RTE takes measures, we are in contact with them and we see what needs to be adapted on our network”, explained Nathalie Deleuze-Dordron, deputy director of GreenAlp, at the beginning of December. “We also have on our side forecasts and statistical models that are constantly running and make it possible to predict future consumption”. GreenAlp will have to follow RTE’s instructions regardless of the scenario, explains Sébastien Julien, head of electrical operations: “This is not a new topic for us. We have been prepared for the challenges of winter for decades with the right tools and processes.
When would the cuts take place?
If the voltage becomes too high on the network, outages of up to two hours may occur at peak times, between 8.00 and 13.00 and from 18.00 to 20.00.
How do we get notified?
The ecoWatt app was launched several weeks ago and provides the energy forecast. It makes it possible to signal in real time the potential voltages on the electrical system and thus encourage people to reduce their electricity consumption. On D-3 of potential cuts, a red signal will be sent via the Ecowatt application or via SMS and email to those registered for the “cut vigilance alert”. If it turns out to be unavoidable the day before, the households concerned will be notified at check if their address is included.
Who will be affected … or spared?
The power lines that supply one of the 14,000 priority places in France (hospitals, doctors, police, firefighters, gendarmerie, etc.) will not be interrupted, which will benefit all the other subscribers connected to them, because a customer cannot be isolated. This is why 38% of the French will not be affected by any load shedding. A two-hour cut would apply to about 5% of Grenoble (which has 160,000 inhabitants and 100,000 electricity delivery points).
Influences of schools, the mobile phone network, traffic lights etc.
Mobile masts will not be spared the risk of load failures, which causes problems with emergency calls. If necessary, call 112, which gives access to all relays regardless of their operator. Traffic lights and some crossings may also be out of service for two hours. In the event of a morning break (between 8:00 and 1:00 p.m.), the schools in the affected areas would close their doors for half a day and students would not return home until the afternoon. The preventive cancellation of certain transports is only considered as a last resort by the government and the transport managers.
How can we reduce our consumption?
The first eco-gesture is to lower the heating temperature and limit the lighting. Then avoid using devices that use electricity at the same time and therefore adjust your uses and usage times to favor peak times. You can also limit your hot water consumption, switch off appliances on standby, etc.