Schools, transportation, work… Our answers to your questions about power outages

The government announced a crisis plan for possible blackouts in January 2023. Specifically, what should the French expect? How will it affect their daily lives?

The scenario of power outages is becoming more and more real. The risk of supplying energy to the grid during the winter season and especially at the beginning of 2023 is indeed considered high by the electricity transmission network operator (RTE). The conversation is estimated to take about two weeks in the presence of the nuclear fleet, which, combined with adverse weather conditions, can cause serious difficulties in the network.

To deal with this tension, RTE and the government have confirmed that a rotating, organized and temporary blackout involving the disconnection of entire areas of the area may be implemented. However, with this possibility, many questions arise for the French: how will these cuts be organized, which areas will they apply to, who will be exempted, will transport and schools be able to remain open?

• Under what circumstances will they be programmed?

If there is a power grid outage, RTE will first issue an alert “to encourage businesses, communities and citizens to reduce electricity consumption between 8am and 1pm and 6pm and 8pm,” the government explains. . on the special page of the site.

In this case, the prefects will have to “bring together without delay the services of the state and the main public and private actors” in order to encourage local actors to reduce electricity consumption.

In case of sufficient mobilization, the risk of interruption can be excluded. On the other hand, if these preventive measures fail to improve the situation, two or three days after the first warning, RTE may ask the distributors to carry out localized and temporary outages.

• How will the French be informed?

Authorities are relying on the Ecowatt warning system to keep the French informed. If consumption does not decrease after a warning, a red alarm will warn of imminent decreases. Website created to alert on the situation in real time. After registering a phone number or e-mail address, Ecowatt will warn about the risk of interruption and show the most effective eco-gestures and their application time.

A Ecowatt program Also available on Apple Store and Google Play Store. By downloading it, notifications will be sent directly to their smartphone.

• How far in advance?

Residents of geographic areas affected by these tensions will have some time to organize themselves. They will first be notified of the activation of the red Ecowatt signal. Three days will then elapse between the giving of this warning and the possible execution of the discharge of the cargo. Redundancies will be confirmed the day before, at 17:00.

The Ecowatt website will display a map of potentially affected departments around 9:30 p.m., and users will be able to enter their postal address to check their personal status.

· At what time of day and for how long?

According to RTE, these cuts should take place during peak hours, between 8:00am and 1:00pm, and between 6:00pm and 8:00pm in the evening. Outages will last a maximum of two hours at a time.

• Who will be affected?

The cuts will be “targeted by a geographic area of ​​an average of 2,000 customers (households and professionals) supplied by the same power line,” the government says on its website, the equivalent of “up to one district in a city and several municipalities.” In a rural area”. “Several power lines spread over the area are simultaneously affected”.

“But it will not be linked to the departments where it is the coldest, the cuts will be distributed and smoothed out,” said a government source.

• Will there be exceptions?

Authorities will not disconnect hospitals and prisons. Areas deemed “sensitive” such as fire stations, police or gendarmerie stations, prisons and hospitals, as well as industries at risk or of national defense interest, will not be affected by this load reduction.

French people living in the area served by one of these sites will be “exempt from cuts”. But in this case, there will be only a few people.

• Will schools be affected?

Schools are no exception to the rule.

“Schools located in a sector affected by morning load shedding will not admit children for the entire half-day,” says Matignon in his circular to prefects.

These one-off closures will force parents to telecommute (unless their home is in a drop-off zone), take time off or find emergency childcare.

As for school transport, it will be co-ordinated with the local authorities accordingly.

• How will it affect transportation?

There will be no power cuts on the train. On the other hand, signaling can have an effect. In this case, traffic will be stopped in relief areas in order to “not take risks”.

Motorists will also be advised not to drive where there are no lights, as there may be no signage.

Will the gas stations work?

As for gas stations, they will automatically shut down in the event of a power outage, forcing drivers to plan ahead and/or stock up outside the area.

• What about the phone network?

Relay antennas will not be able to avoid cuts. The result: it will not be possible to make phone calls in the drop-off zones.

Despite this, the government wants to “prioritise” access to emergency services. “RTE, Enedis, ELDs (local distribution companies, editor’s note) and telephone operators are currently working to ensure access to the 112 emergency number in the event of an organized outage,” he said. online questions.

“In cases where 112 cannot work, other devices will be activated by the prefects (for example: security island, reinforced patrols, etc.),” ​​he tries to reassure the executive head.

· What will be the fate of people cared for at home?

As for people who are cared for at home, for example, under respiratory assistance, they will be specially monitored and cared for.

“Patients who are at high risk of life, being cared for at home, have already been identified by the Regional Health Agency and the heads of the electricity networks (Enedis and ELD),” the government said.

When Ecowatt has a red signal, the power grid managers will contact them. The latter, together with the Regional Health Agencies (ARS), will have to verify that these patients are “autonomous for more than two hours and have sufficient energy supply”.

If not, prefects and emergency services will be able to arrange their evacuation to the nearest medical facility.

·Will telecare work for the elderly?

Remote assistance refers to a transmitter that some people wear around their neck or wrist to contact their loved ones or help at any time. Don’t panic, they should continue to operate despite the load shedding operations. They are equipped with a backup battery that can really handle it.

· Will the doors of buildings with electricity work?

Electricity is generally used to keep the door closed. Therefore, it should be possible to enter and leave the buildings freely, assured Lisa Hadef on the antenna of BFMTV.

Not to mention that there is often an alternative to manually opening the door like a small latch. On all standard doors, a manual release trigger must allow the door to be opened manually, especially in the event of a power failure.

·Will there be a greater risk of theft?

Power outages can make it easier for thieves. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about victim coverage. Because if the doors and windows have to be closed and the alarms have to be turned on in order to receive compensation for insurance subscribers, there will be an exception during cuts programmed by the state. Especially since insurers can easily check if and when the power supply to the home has been cut.

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