UPDATE 1-France does not see power cuts in winter despite nuclear outages

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(Add more details)PARIS, June 11 (Reuters) – France is unlikely to experience power cuts this winter despite a tight supply situation, as several of its nuclear reactors will go offline, French Minister for Foreign Affairs said on Thursday Energy and the person in charge of the electrical network.

Winter electricity consumption in France is expected to be around the same level as the previous year, said François Brottes, head of the RTE electricity network, at a press conference.

He added that France may have to import electricity during the winter to guarantee the supply, while the electricity supply for the summer was secure.

At the height of the pandemic, there was a 15 gigawatt (GW) supply deficit, which is expected to fall to around 6 GW in November and December 2020, said Brottes.

The head of RTE stressed that his objective was to secure the electricity supply of France during the coming winter and that the production of several reactors could be suspended during the summer and autumn months to save fuel.

The new coronavirus outbreak disrupted maintenance plans for EDF’s nuclear reactors, delaying the start-up of several reactors.

Energy Minister Elisabeth Borne said measures have been put in place to avoid blackouts. “This unprecedented crisis has led to unprecedented measures,” she said at the press conference.

France will begin to closely monitor its electricity supply at the end of October to ensure sufficient production in the coming months.

Borne added that the plan to close the Fessenheim plant near the German border will be maintained despite the potential shortfall in production.

French state-controlled electricity company EDF warned in mid-April that it expected its domestic nuclear power production to drop sharply to a record level in 2020 due to the decline in activity caused by the coronavirus crisis. (Report by Benjamin Mallet, written by Bate Felix and Forrest Crellin; edited by Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans)

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