French energy giants: Reduce fuel and electricity use now
The EU and French flag flap together in the wind prior to leaders arrivals during an EU summit at the Chateau de Versailles, in Versailles, west of Paris, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
PARIS -- Leaders of three French energy companies called on the French public Sunday to immediately reduce consumption of fuel, oil, electricity and gas amid shortages and soaring prices due to Russia's supply cuts and the war in Ukraine.
"The effort must be immediate, collective and massive," the leaders of the three companies, TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie said in a joint statement published in the French weekly Journal du Dimanche. "Every gesture counts," the statement said.
Russia has cut -- and in some case shut off -- gas supplies to several European Union countries in retaliation for the 27-member bloc's sanctions against Moscow for its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The European energy system has been under severe strain for months. The level of alert on gas stocks across the continent is high, and rationing measures have been put in place. France, like other European countries, is trying to beef up its gas reserves for winter, aiming to fill up its storage by early autumn to avert an economic and political crisis.
"Taking action in the summer will prepare us for winter," the energy companies' leaders 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 drought.
"The soaring energy prices are a result of these difficulties that threaten our social and political cohesion and have a heavy impact on purchasing power of families," the statement said.
The French government plans to restart a coal-fuelled power plant located in the eastern Moselle region to meet the country's winter electricity needs, according to French media reports, citing a statement from the Ministry of Energy Transition.
The government shut down the power plant in Saint-Avold in March as part of President Emmanuel Macron's plan to close all coal-fueled plants by the end of the year to protect the environment and Earth's climate.
One coal-fueled power plant in France remains open. The Saint-Avold restart would only be temporary, given the "situation in Ukraine" and the "uncertainty of the energy markets," radio station RTL France reported Sunday, citing the ministry's statement.
No Russian coal will be used and France would still remain below 1% of coal-produced electricity, the statement said.