Subject to the opinion of the Higher Energy Council (CSE), which meets on Thursday, November 30, the government should quickly launch an unprecedented experiment temporarily limiting the electricity consumption of individuals, with the publication of the decree in Official newspaper.
This is just a test to see if it “could potentially be possible, even in extreme cases, to avoid or limit the use of planned outages”we argue at the Ministry of Energy Transition, where we are well aware of walking on eggshells.
On a voluntary basis and for remuneration
Concretely, some 200,000 homes, in an area which remains to be determined, would see the power of their meter reduced to 3 kVA (kilovolt-ampere) for two hours. This level, which corresponds to the use of 3,000 watts at the same time, is considered sufficient to operate lighting, the refrigerator, the television, a computer, possibly a hob, or even a radiator, provided that all this equipment is not connected at full power and at the same time.
Today, only 4% of homes have a 3 kVA meter. Two thirds have a power of 6 kVA, the others, that is to say those who have a large electrically heated home, being equipped for 9 kVA.
This power reduction will be limited to two consecutive hours, on a working day, only between 6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. It will be done on a voluntary basis, with affected customers being notified by mail. , and will result in the payment of a bonus of €10.
Consultation with patient associations
This was not initially planned. The draft decree, presented at the end of September to the Higher Energy Council, relied on a four-hour experiment and excluded only patients at high vital risk (PHRV), on respiratory assistance for example.
But the debates had been quite heated and the ministry had to revise its copy, accused in particular of not having organized prior consultation. Discussions with patient associations were thus launched, forcing the presentation of a new text to the CSE to be postponed.
“We are not against the principle of this experiment, but for it to be well accepted, it seemed important to us that people could exercise their right to object. We have been heard on this point”explains Françoise Thiebault, general secretary of the Secular Family Associations (AFL) of Paris and member of the Higher Energy Council.
The possibility of objecting
According to her, a few points nevertheless remain to be resolved, such as the possibility given to customers to object by mail, with a prepaid envelope, and not only by an online form, as provided for in the draft decree. Amendments have been tabled to this effect in the advisory opinion to be rendered by the CSE.
The impact of such an experiment is currently difficult to quantify, because it depends on the rate of refusals expressed, Enedis explains. But it should be quite marginal compared to consumption. “The interest lies above all in the lessons that we can learn from it, particularly on user behavior. The new meters allow us this type of system, which is less brutal than load shedding, and we would be wrong to deprive ourselves of it”judge Mathias Laffont, director of uses and territories at the French Electricity Union (UFE), recalling that this erasure mechanism already exists for companies.
No supply problem this winter
Putting it into practice nevertheless remains very delicate in terms of public opinion. We remember the concerns and opposition that arose around the deployment of the Linky meter. Last year, the deactivation of hot water tanks at midday, which affected more than 4 million homes, also caused some commotion, although it had no impact on user comfort. It still made it possible to save 2 GW of power demand on the network. The equivalent of two nuclear reactors, which is not negligible.
At the Ministry of Energy Transition, we are quick to point out that this experiment has nothing to do with any problem with electricity supply this winter.
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