Strike-hit France importing massive amounts of electricity
Strike-hit France was on Wednesday forced to import electricity equivalent to the output of six nuclear reactors because of anti-pension reform industrial action and maintenance at its power stations.
During one hour in the middle of the day, France imported 5,990 megawatts of electricity or six reactors' worth, said the website of the RTE electricity network, a subsidiary of national electricity supplier EDF.
France has traditionally been an exporter of electricity, but nationwide strike action by workers including at utilities such as the EDF combined with maintenance work at several reactors means France is now an importer.
Sixteen of France's 58 reactors are currently closed, 12 for maintenance and four because of unplanned technical issues, an EDF spokeswoman said.
"EDF is paying for the lack of investment in its reactors," said Laurent Langlard of the powerful CGT union's energy branch.
Electricity workers in southwestern France said they have also cut electricity to 15 town halls controlled by the UMP party of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has made pension reform a key policy of his mandate, the CGT said.
© 2010 AFP