Two million people were left without power for nearly two hours in south-east France after record levels of demand due to the cold weather.
The energy provider RTE cut the power at the Tavel substation near Avignon through which the main electricity power supply line passes for the whole of the Provence-Alpes and Cote d’Azur region.
The partial blackout was apparently necessary after a technical malfunction at Tavel threatened to cripple the entire system.
Frédéric Dohet, assistant director of RTE south-east region was clear the energy supplier had been facing a crisis:
“We were in the situation where we had to make a choice between this targeted load shedding of power and a blackout for 100 percent of our customers. If we hadn’t taken this decision, we would have had a total blackout.”
Nearly five million people would have been affected if the power supply had collapsed. According to RTE, a drop of one degree Celsius in France provokes a hike in electricity consumption of about 2100 megawatts, or about twice that of the city of Marseille.