No power cuts despite reactor closures, says JE

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JERSEY Electricity has moved to assure Islanders there will not be power cuts in January despite the recent forced closure of two French nuclear power plants.

Electricite de France SA, which provides the Island with its power supply, recently had to shut down and extend the closure of four reactors at the Chooz and Civaux plants, which generate as much as 10% of the country’s power supply.

The decision came after faults were found in a safety system at the Chivaux plant. Chooz, which has similar reactors, was shut down too.

The continent was already facing energy shortages and rising prices due to disruption of the natural-gas supply chain. Concerns have now been raised that if the temperature drops there could be rolling blackouts across France, which supplies Jersey’s electricity through undersea cables from Normandy.

A spokesman for Jersey Electricity said that the situation was being monitored, adding that EDF would be breaching their contract if they cut power to Jersey.

‘Jersey Electricity continuously monitors developments in energy markets. Our contacts at EDF have indicated that despite media comments they do not expect any power cuts in January,’ he said. ‘JE’s contract with EDF differs from other arrangements offered to French industrial customers in that they can contractually have their power supplies interrupted from time to time when there might be supply pressures on the grid. EDF does not have that option with JE’s contract.’

Electricity prices from the continental grid have continued to climb over the past six months and the UK’s regulator, Ofgem, has been forced to increase its price cap on electricity prices for residential consumers by 21%, affecting half the country’s customers.

The spokesman said that, by contrast, Jersey Electricity had only increased energy prices by 4% going into the new year.

He said: ‘Increased wholesale prices have led to 25 electricity utilities in UK failing since September. Analysts are forecasting significant further increases in the UK price cap in 2022 with more utility failures.

‘In October, JE announced a 4% tariff rise for 2022, and although this is unfortunate, it is far lower than increases elsewhere. Even after this rise, JE will continue to benchmark very favourably against other jurisdictions.’

Earlier this year, two French government ministers, Annick Girardin and Clement Beaune, suggested cutting the power supply to the Island in response to the introduction of a tougher licensing regime for French fishers using Jersey’s territorial waters.

If Jersey’s energy supply from France, which is sourced from nuclear and hydroelectric power, was cut, the Island would be able to resort to using locally based gas and diesel generators to provide electricity but this would be more expensive for the utility company.

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