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EU Pressures France Against Nuclear // FERC Approves Winter Reliability Standards

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: the EU pressures France on renewables, FERC OKs NERC’s extreme winter reliability measures, and more.

EU Pressures France Against Nuclear

The European Union is leaning on France to commit to producing 44% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. Currently, France generates 70% of its electricity from carbon free nuclear. Adopting the EU’s goals would mean industrial self-sabotage for France.

“With a June deadline looming for EU countries to submit their final National Energy and Climate Plans, the European Commission is becoming increasingly confrontational with the French, insisting that they make their fair contribution to the EU’s renewable energy goals,” reports Euractiv.

EU energy commissioner Kadri Simson has warned France that if the country does not conform to the EU’s goals, she may have to “take steps” at the EU level. France has resisted adopting a strictly renewables-oriented energy goal, insisting on an approach that also includes nuclear.

Simson’s threats come at a time when the French nuclear industry is on the upswing. The EDF, after renationalizing last year, saw its net income rise to EUR10 billion in 2023, up from EUR17.9 billion in losses the year before that.

“The company said its ‘exceptional’ results were ‘driven by a very good operational performance, achieving a significant 41.4 TWh increase in nuclear generation in France in a context of historically high prices,’” reports World Nuclear News.

FERC Approves Winter Reliability Standards

Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held an open meeting. Here are three takeaways:

First, FERC agreed to adopt the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s extreme winter reliability standards, which were developed in the wake of 2021’s Storm Uri. “One standard, in part, requires balancing authorities to draft plans to protect critical natural gas infrastructure from outages during planned load shedding in emergencies,” reports Utility Dive. “The other standard provides greater specificity about a balancing authority’s responsibilities in extreme cold weather.”

Second, Chairman Willie Phillips said that FERC will release its new transmission rule soon. “This will be a historic rule,” Phillips said. “It will be the greatest development regarding electric transmission rules in the country in over a generation. We are very excited to implement this rule.”

Lastly, Phillips said that the DOE’s pause on new LNG export facility project approvals will not impact FERC’s permitting abilities.

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