* One third of EDF's nuclear power fleet still offline
* Europe faces more fragile supply context this year
* RTE could be forced to clip some demand during peak use
By Marion Douet
MONTESQUIEU-DES-ALBERES, France, Oct 17 French
state-owned utility only has six weeks left to ensure
its troubled fleet of nuclear power reactors is capable of
producing enough electricity to cope with winter demand, the
French power grid's head said on Wednesday.
Around a third of EDF's 58 nuclear reactors -- which are on
average 26 years old -- have been offline since April due to a
maintenance, problems restarting some of the ageing reactors and
This has led to questions over the energy company's ability
to adequately supply its customers in time this winter with
supply already been hit by hitches at French and Belgium
Dominique Maillard, the head of RTE, the transport arm of
the utility, told Reuters EDF would need to be ready by December
or even mid-November.
"But I prefer to have a poor availability rate now than in
December," said Maillard. EDF carries out most of its
maintenance during the spring and autumn to ensure they are
available during summer and winter peak demand.
"In certain cases we could be forced to clip some demand
during peak demand, which does not mean plunging France in the
dark but cut supplies for some clients for a short period,"
"What worries us is that the conditions are not as favorable
as they were last year."
EDF consistently fails to meet its forecast availability
targets published on RTE's website. For a link please click: link.reuters.com/jym43t
(Additional reporting and writing by Muriel Boselli; Editing by