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PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) - France is unlikely to experience electricity blackouts this winter despite an expected tight supply situation with several of its nuclear reactors expected to be offline, French energy minister and the head of the power grid said on Thursday.
French winter electricity consumption is expected to be at around the same level as the previous year, Francois Brottes, head of electricity grid operator RTE, told a news conference.
He added that France may have to import power during the winter to guarantee supplies, while electricity supply for the summer was secured.
At the height of the pandemic, there was a 15 gigawatt (GW) supply deficit, which should drop to around 6 GW in November and December 2020, Brottes said.
The head of RTE stressed it was his goal to secure France’s electricity supply during the upcoming winter and the production of several reactors could be suspended during the summer and autumn months to save fuel.
The new coronavirus outbreak has disrupted utility EDF’s nuclear reactor maintenance plans, delaying the start of several reactors.
Energy Minister Elisabeth Borne said measures have been put in place to avoid any blackouts. “This unprecedented crisis has led to unprecedented measures,” she told the news conference.
France will start to closely monitor its electricity supply at the end of October to ensure that there will be sufficient production over the following months.
Borne added that the plan to close the Fessenheim plant near the German border will be maintained despite the potential production shortfall.
French state-controlled utility EDF warned in mid-April it expected a sharp drop in its domestic nuclear power output to a record low in 2020 as a result of the fall in business activity caused by the coronavirus crisis. (Reporting by Benjamin Mallet Writing by Bate Felix and Forrest Crellin; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans)