France denies being able to stop electricity exports to Italy

A view of the Electricite de France (EDF) company logo on the facade of EDF’s headquarters in Paris, France, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

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PARIS, Sept 17 (Reuters) – France on Saturday denied reports that utility company EDF (EDF.PA) had warned Italy it could suspend electricity exports to the country and reaffirmed its commitment to “solidarity” with its neighbors as Europe struggles. with an energy crisis.

Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper reported earlier on Saturday that Italy had received written notification from EDF of a possible two-year shutdown of electricity exports under France’s energy saving plans.

A spokesperson for Italy’s Ministry of Ecological Transition later confirmed the newspaper report.

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“The French authorities deny this information and reaffirm their commitment to reciprocal solidarity in terms of electricity and gas with all our European neighbors,” said the French Ministry of Energy Transition in a press release.

An EDF spokesman also denied that the group had warned Italy of a possible suspension of its electricity exports to the country.

Asked about the Repubblica report, a spokesperson for Italy’s Ecological Transition Ministry confirmed a communication to the ministry, adding that “the problem has been known for months because of France’s problems with its nuclear power plants”.

“Obviously it is not certain that this will happen, but to be prepared, the technicians of the ministry have been working for months on different scenarios,” the spokesman told Reuters.

France has helped sustain Europe’s electricity supply for years, supplying around 15% of its total electricity production.

France accounted for around 5% of Italy’s annual electricity consumption in 2019, according to Eurostat data.

But this year, France has become a net importer of electricity, as its own nuclear power output hit a 30-year low due to a wave of repairs at the country’s nuclear power plants.

European countries are in the grip of an energy crisis triggered by the collapse of Russian natural gas supplies following the Ukrainian conflict.

In an effort to increase gas savings, the Italian government has said it will aim to reduce heating by 1 degree Celsius in public and private residential buildings in the second half of 2022, while reducing heating time by one hour. per day.

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Reporting by Benjamin Mallet in Paris and Giselda Vagnoni in Milan Writing by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Helen Popper

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