French grid briefly curbed factory output to avert blackout: regulator

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s CRE energy regulator said on Saturday that grid operator RTE had called on Thursday evening on factories with high power usage to curb their output and electricity consumption in order to prevent blackouts.

The regulator said that on Jan. 10 at about 2000 GMT French and European power frequencies had fallen well below the normal level of 50 hertz, which can lead to major power cuts or blackouts.

It said RTE, which is a unit of French state-controlled utility EDF, had called on companies that are part of its demand-response program to reduce power consumption by about 1,500 MW -- the equivalent of about one and a half nuclear plants’ output -- to restore grid frequency.

“Thanks to their quick response, these companies have helped ensure security of power supply in France and more broadly in Europe,” the regulator said.

European power grids are all closely interlinked and major blackouts in one country could lead to blackouts in neighboring countries.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Helen Popper