French energy giants: reduce fuel and electricity consumption now

PARIS — Leaders of three French energy companies called on the French public on Sunday to immediately reduce consumption of fuel, oil, electricity and gas amid shortages and soaring prices due to supply cuts from Russia and to the war in Ukraine.

“The effort must be immediate, collective and massive,” said the leaders of the three companies, TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie in a joint statement published in the French weekly Journal du Dimanche. “Every gesture counts,” the statement said.

Russia has cut off – and in some cases closed – gas supplies to several European Union countries in retaliation for the 27-member bloc’s sanctions against Moscow for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The European energy system has been under severe strain for months. The alert level on gas stocks across the continent is high and rationing measures have been put in place. France, like other European countries, is trying to boost its gas reserves for the winter, aiming to fill its storage in early autumn to avoid an economic and political crisis.

“Acting in summer will prepare us for winter,” energy company executives said.

In addition to the gas supply shortages linked to the war in Ukraine, there are pressures on electricity production capacities in Europe and reductions in hydroelectric production due to the drought.

“The spike in energy prices is the result of these difficulties which threaten our social and political cohesion and have a heavy impact on the purchasing power of families,” the statement said.

The French government is considering restarting a coal-fired power station in eastern Moselle to meet the country’s winter electricity needs, according to French media, citing a statement from the Ministry of Energy Transition.

The government shut down the Saint-Avold power plant in March as part of President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to close all coal-fired power plants by the end of the year to protect the Earth’s environment and climate.

A coal-fired power plant in France remains open. The restart of Saint-Avold would only be temporary, given the “situation in Ukraine” and the “uncertainty of the energy markets”, RTL France radio reported on Sunday, citing the ministry’s press release.

No Russian coal will be used and France would still remain below 1% of electricity produced from coal, according to the press release.