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Energy Crisis

Europe Prepares Blackout Plans to Head Off Winter Energy Chaos

Power outages are the next threat for the continent

The lit room of an apartment in a residential district of Strasbourg, France. France’s grid operator said that it will probably have to ask the country to cut consumption several times this winter to avoid rolling blackouts.

The lit room of an apartment in a residential district of Strasbourg, France. France’s grid operator said that it will probably have to ask the country to cut consumption several times this winter to avoid rolling blackouts.

Photographer: Benjamin Girette/Bloomberg

It’s December in Europe, and the temperature is dropping. People have the heating on as they cook dinner, run the washing machine, watch television. But the French grid operator, like counterparts elsewhere on the continent, is running out of options to keep the lights on.

The utility has issued a “red” alert, meaning supplies are at their limit. It’s already cut off some big industrial users and reduced voltage, and even sent out a mass request to households to curb their electricity usage.