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French power output down 9% on second day of strike

   September 20, 2019        284        Reuters

Paris- French power generation was down about 9% on Thursday morning, on the second day of a nationwide strike by workers of French utility EDF in protest against a plan to restructure the state-controlled company.

The strike, scheduled to end on Thursday evening, has reduced power generation at several nuclear, hydro and gas fired power plants, in the worst disruption to power output from strike action in the past few years.

Power station outages will not knock out the grid or hit households, though cuts in power output are costly for EDF, as it has to import any shortfall from overseas.

After the strike started on Wednesday night, there was a loss of power generation of over 8%, and by Thursday morning it had fallen another percentage point, according to data from EDF and grid operator RTE.

EDF workers are protesting against plans steered by the French government to restructure and potentially split the heavily-indebted group, with its nuclear power generation business set to one side.

The strike was disruptive than previous stoppages, with four unions representing a majority of France‘s energy workers joining forces behind the walkout this time. Previously, the unions have not acted together.

It is not yet clear whether job cuts would be involved under the restructuring plan, which is known as “Project Hercule” and was requested by President Emmanuel Macron.

But unions hope to pile pressure on EDF’s management and the government to delay the project – the company is due to present a final proposal by the end of the year – and they argue the mooted split would only weaken the group.

“Nobody should forget that the one primarily responsible for EDF’s situation today is undoubtedly the state (…) Dismantling EDF cannot be the answer”, the unions said in a statement.

EDF operates all 58 French nuclear reactors, which account for around 75 percent of the country’s electricity needs.