EDF to Halt 5,200MW of Fuel-Oil Generators on Weak Demand, Costs

Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, will halt 5,200 megawatts of fuel-oil fired power plants for six months amid a slump in demand.

The eight generators at three sites will be idled from April to October, with guarantees they won’t be called upon over the period, according to a spokesman who couldn’t be named because of company policy. There will be no impact on jobs.

The plants include four 600-megawatt generators at Porcheville west of Paris, two with a capacity of 700 megawatts each at Cordemais and another two 700-megawatt plants at Aramon, he said. The generators are little-used, having produced power for a combined 300 hours in 2013.

EDF, which produces almost three-quarters of France’s power output through its 58 atomic reactors, has embarked on an effort to cut costs as spending increases to maintain and upgrade the nuclear fleet. Fuel oil is more expensive than coal and the generators are easier to shut than reactors.

GDF Suez SA, which competes against EDF in Europe, wrote down 14.9 billion euros ($20.5 billion) in assets and goodwill last month mostly on European natural gas-fired power plants and storage installations. The utility has closed or mothballed more than 11,000 megawatts of capacity as a drop in European demand coincides with improved profitability of coal-burning plants and added renewable sources.

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