With record winds of up to 207 km/h, hundreds of thousands of homes were left without electricity in Brittany after the passage of the violent storm Ciaran on the night of Wednesday to Thursday 2 November. This necessitated emergency interventions to restore power. Although electricity has now been restored, Enedis - the distribution network operator - has had to fight a long-term battle that Le Figaro reveals in detail, day by day.
Sunday, October 29. It all started with a first weather report received on the morning of Sunday 29 October by Hervé Champenois, technical director and member of the Enedis management board. It receives half a dozen such bulletins a year.
Monday 30. "On Monday morning, we start refining the model," recalls Hervé Champenois. As the day progresses, the forecasts become more refined and with them the confirmation that "this will be an important event". "With November 1st, we can't wait until the last moment to mobilize," adds Hervé Champenois. The presence of this public holiday accentuates the need to anticipate. On October 30 at 16:50, a new weather report predicts that the storm will affect a large northwestern quarter of France, with a more intense phenomenon over Brittany with winds above 140 km / h. Potentially a phenomenon not seen in ten or twenty years.
The challenge is not to mobilize resources for nothing. With this new bulletin, we are confident that if we move teams, it will not be for nothing. And we have to organise everything before 1 November," continues Hervé Champenois. Reinforcements will come from the affected regions, but also - above all - from those that will not be affected.
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Tuesday 31. Weather forecasts are becoming more sophisticated. "A more accurate report gives us the go-ahead to be pre-positioned in cities like Le Mans. People from the East, an area that will not be affected, are making the trip. These are teams from Enedis and our service providers. We prepare everything, we warn in a fairly broad way, even if it means reducing the sails in a second phase," says Hervé Champenois. At 11:09 a.m., an update of the weather report specifies the geographical area potentially impacted: Normandy and Brittany, with an intensity not seen for 20 years. Before noon, first conference call to organize everything and also to get the equipment to go. Everything must be on site on Wednesday so that the interventions start on Thursday morning.
Wednesday, November 1st. The teams are on site. Some had a day's drive to get there. They can take a few hours off to intervene as early as Thursday morning. A total of 3000,<> people were mobilized, "which made it possible to have a strike force from the first" day.
I had asked to be called at 3:30 a.m. if more than 200,000 homes were without power. By 3:30 a.m., there were 600,000
Hervé Champenois, Technical Director and Member of the Executive Board of Enedis
Thursday 2. "I had asked to be called at 3:30 a.m. if more than 200,000 homes were without power. At 3:30 a.m., there were 600,000," recalls Hervé Champenois. A balance sheet that will increase, with at the worst of the crisis, 1.2 million households without electricity, including 780,000 in Brittany, the others are located in Normandy and to a lesser extent in the Pays de la Loire. The race against time is on. You have to locate people and equipment to be able to intervene. The Rapid Intervention Force for Electricity (FIRE, created after the 1999 storm) was activated, which formalized the handling of the emergency. The first interventions begin in the morning.
Saturday 4. It's astounding. An Enedis employee was electrocuted while working on a medium-voltage line in Pont-Aven (Finistère).
Sunday 5. By 18 p.m., power had been restored to 90% of homes. There are still 114,000 households to be resupplied, including 97,000 in Brittany and 17,000 in Normandy.
Tuesday 7. By 9 a.m., 95% of affected households had access to electricity again. Enedis then specifies that "the force of the wind and the heavy rainfall caused major damage to the power lines and even destroyed equipment (downed wires, broken poles, crushed distribution substations, etc.). The heavy rains have also soaked the soils, making it difficult for vehicles to access the affected areas."
Saturday 11. Enedis announced that it had restored "98.3% of the households concerned". There are still 19,900 customers in Brittany and Normandy, still without power.
Thursday 16. A new milestone has been reached with 99.9% of customers restored, only 1200 are still without electricity.
Friday, December 1st. Work is ongoing. To enable consumers to quickly regain electricity, Enedis initially favoured "resupply by remote manoeuvres, network repair operations and, in certain areas, the temporary suspension of generators". Temporary repairs have also been carried out, such as lines drawn on the ground, which are then taken over.
This consolidation phase lasts two months. It will be followed by a reconstruction phase, and depending on the analyses, we will propose investment avenues to the communities to which the networks belong," explains Hervé Champenois. Enedis is a co-investor in low-voltage networks, which have suffered the most. Investment proposals will be made from January. "It's an approach like this that has made the coastal area of Finistère more reliable," concludes Hervé Champenois.