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Strikes over coal retirements could impact EDF plants

Strikes by French workers opposed to the government's plan to phase out coal-fired power generation could impact Electricité de France SA's 600-MW Havre and 1,200-MW Cordemais coal-fired power plants until April 2020, Reuters reported March 19, citing grid operator RTE.

The French government plans to halt operations at its remaining coal-fired plants by 2022 as part of a plan to reduce carbon emissions and meet climate change goals.

A number of French unions ended a three-month strike at Cordemais on March 8 after the company assured them the facility would continue to operate after 2022 due to plans to convert to using biomass. A similar conversion could take place at Havre if approved by the government. A decision is expected in autumn.

Uniper SE has criticized the French government's decision and in December entered into exclusive negotiations with Czech Republic energy group Energetický a prumyslový holding a.s. to divest ownership in all of its French assets, which include two gas-fired facilities with a combined capacity of about 800 MW, two coal-fired plants with an installed capacity of roughly 1,200 MW, a 150-MW biomass plant, and 100 MW of wind and solar resources.

Additionally on March 19, EDF's hydro projects curtailed production due to a strike against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies. The company's nuclear projects, however, were mostly unaffected by the protest, RTE's data reportedly showed.