French grid operator RTE says power demand slumps 15% due to coronavirus outbreak

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s electricity grid operator RTE said on Thursday that electricity demand had slumped by around 15% compared with the normal level for this period of the year due to a slowdown in economic activity linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

France, like several other countries, has put its 67 million residents under lockdown since Tuesday to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has killed 264 in the country.

The decision has curbed economic activity and changed France’s electricity consumption pattern, RTE said, as more people work from home, while industries have cut production.

“Electricity consumption increases more slowly than usual in the morning and does not peak until around 1 p.m. in the afternoon, consumption also decreases more sharply than normal,” the grid operator said.

RTE added that there was enough electricity to meet demand and that power transmission lines were sufficient to keep lights on throughout France and even Europe as it continues to import and export electricity from and to its neighbors.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Kirsten Donovan