EDF rivals bid for 133 TWh of nuclear power for 2019

PARIS (Reuters) - Alternative power providers in France have requested 132.93 terawatt hours (TWH) of utility EDF’s nuclear power generation in 2019, energy regulator CRE said on Thursday.

Under the so-called ARENH mechanism, EDF’s smaller rivals have the right to buy up to 100 TWH, about a quarter of its annual nuclear output, at 42 euros per megawatthour (MW) in a scheme aimed at giving them fair access to cheap nuclear energy.

The CRE said that since demand was above the 100 TWH limit, allocation will be prorated for the 69 companies that took part in the bidding (not including EDF’s own power retail units).

Last year, alternative suppliers bid for 94.6 TWH. In 2016 and 2015, they had largely abandoned the auction as wholesale market power prices had dropped below the ARENH price.

State-owned EDF - which still has a market share of more than 80 percent of French households - says the ARENH price is too low and the mechanism is one-sided as its competitors only used it when it is advantageous to them. The government is preparing a review of the mechanism, which is expected to be more favorable to EDF.

Alternative power providers include Total-owned Direct Energie,, gas and power utility Engie and Italy’s Eni ENI.MI, along with dozens of smaller players.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by John Irish