schools, rescues, how mayors prepare for potential blackouts this winter

schools, rescues, how mayors prepare for potential blackouts this winter

On Friday, December 9, the Herault prefecture organized a meeting for local elected officials about the risks of power outages this winter in France. Far from being concerned, department heads are anticipating these potential power outages.

RTE and the electricity distributor Enedis are organizing a national exercise this Friday, December 9, bringing together the prefectures of the whole country, to test their procedures and communication methods in case of load shedding, with simulations of several scenarios on the computer. This is by no means a cut-off test for the population.

This national test is based on map simulations, the display of which will vary depending on the lack of power generation or weather conditions. “But it won’t actually correspond to what will happen in the case of relief and there will be no effective relief on that day.”insists the manager of the electrical transmission network with BFMTV.

In Hérault, the prefecture invites local elected officials “power loss meeting” by video conference at 5:30 p.m., according to an email sent to the mayors on Thursday evening, December 8.

However, not everyone is informed, like Frédéric Lafforgue, the mayor of Castelnau-le-Lez. “I warned the services two weeks ago, saying there was a risk of cuts”, he explains. As a result, his city began to forecast: the inventory of the city’s electricity needs, the preparation of simulations during the school holidays of cuts in the places of life (nursery, EHPAD, school) in collaboration with the SDIS of Herault, the forecast of cold meals for the group school.. .These precautions for “anticipate things and don’t suffer them” in order to avoid “get into trouble”Aedile continues, “pending government decisions”.

The measures that should be known in part this Friday after the meeting. Francis Cros, the mayor of La Salvetat-sur-Agout, is awaiting more details about the potential relief and possible announcements about safety devices to be taken if it happens. The elected official has already agreed with the local fire station, which is therefore guaranteed to have electricity, at the level of the town hall, where about twenty walkie-talkies are available for the main emergency services, in case the relay antennas no longer work for mobile phones.

“We are used to having power outages, either when there are storms or when there is too much snow”, explains Francis Cros. Many of its constituents have also taken their precautions for a long time and are equipped with generators. “We have this mountain weather training”he continues. “Besides, we’re told it’s going to be two-hour cuts, it’s still relatively short.”

An opinion shared by Yvon Pellet, from Saint-Geniès-des-Mourgues, who will be listening with one ear to Friday night’s meeting. “I’m not very worried and I haven’t been worried about my constituents since I’ve been mayor”laughs the city councilman, who has been in the City Hall since 1995. He also urges the population not to panic: “Let’s be a little optimistic, let’s give some cheer to the French.”

For Frédéric Roig, president of the Hérault mayors’ association, many elected officials will have very practical questions during the meeting, especially about class closures. It also relativizes the risks of load shedding. “Two free hours, we organize ourselves, it’s not the end of the world, especially when it’s accurate”moderated by the mayor of Pégairolles-de-l’Escalette. “If you turn off the electricity in the school for two hours, the temperature will not drop to three degrees”he assures.

Planned rotating blackouts of up to two hours could occur during the winter if calls to reduce electricity consumption are not sufficiently heeded.

An EcoWatt signaling system has been installed that warns consumers in advance, with three levels: green if everything is fine, orange when the system is stressed and red when the warning level is at its maximum and it is necessary to redouble efforts to save. energy, for example not turning on the oven, turning off the heating, etc.

The manager of the high-voltage and high-voltage network of RTE has so far observed a decrease in electricity consumption despite the cold: – 8.3% for a week compared to the average for the period 2014-2019. EDF, for its part, estimates a fall of -10% in November compared to November 2021.

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