France Tells Office Workers to Stop Printing to Save Power in Big Freeze

  • Turning down heating can save equivalent output of 2 reactors
  • RTE to announce if more measures needed for Wednesday

Delete your old e-mails, don’t use the printer, turn down the heating and lights. These are some of the energy saving measures that France’s grid operator is suggesting to millions of homes and offices as temperatures plunge from Paris to Nice.

Reseau de Transport d’Electricite SA has issued advice on twitter and on its website for how people can help reduce electricity use during periods when demand is highest. Most of the nation’s heating needs are met by electricity, and if each household lowers the temperature in their living room by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 Fahrenheit), it would save the equivalent output of two nuclear reactors, according to the French energy ministry.

French power demand is forecast to peak at about 95 gigawatts this week, compared with a record 102 gigawatts in February 2012. If the voluntary demand reductions aren’t enough, RTE may start to implement “exceptional measures” that include shutting off factories and dimming lights across the country. RTE will announce later on Tuesday if these measures are needed for later in the week.

Day-ahead power prices jumped as much as 17 percent to their highest level since the end of November, as Meteo France forecasts temperatures will drop 6.4 degrees Celsius below normal on Wednesday. RTE estimates that every 1 Celsius drop in temperature causes demand to increase by 2,400 megawatts, or about the same amount of the power consumption in central Paris.

About 90 percent of Electricite de France SA’s 58 nuclear reactors are available, about the same as last year. Usually at this time of the year, the company has almost all its reactors online to maximize supplies during cold weather. In 2015 availability was 99 percent.

Suggested ways to reduce electricity use:

  • Don’t use washing machines or dryers
  • Lower the temperature of your home by 1 or 2 degrees
  • Don’t leave TVs or computers on standby
  • Limit the number of lights used in each room
  • Completely switch off your computer
  • Turn down the brightness on your computer screen

— With assistance by Francois De Beaupuy

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