Major damage, general mobilization, death of an employee… The story of the management of the Ciaran storm by Enedis

One month to the day after this meteorological event which had serious consequences on the electricity networks, Le Figaro provides the details of how the Enedis teams handled the damage.

With record winds of up to 207 km/h, hundreds of thousands of homes found themselves without electricity in Brittany after the violent storm Storm Ciaran during the night of Wednesday to Thursday, November 2. Enough to require emergency interventions to restore power. If electricity has been restored today, Enedis – the distribution network manager – had to deliver a long-term battle that Le Figaro reveals in detail, day by day.

Sunday October 29. It all starts with a first weather report received on Sunday October 29 in the morning by Hervé Champenois, technical director and member of the Enedis board of directors. He receives half a dozen bulletins of this type per year.

Monday 30. “On Monday morning we start refining the model», remembers Hervé Champenois. As the day goes by, the forecasts become more refined and with them the confirmation that “it will be an important event“. “With November 1st, we cannot 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 4:50 p.m., a new weather forecast predicts that the storm will affect a large north-western quarter of France, with a more intense phenomenon over Brittany with winds exceeding 140 km/h. Potentially a phenomenon not seen for ten or twenty years.

The difficulty is not to mobilize resources for nothing. With this new bulletin, we have the certainty that if we move teams, it will not be for nothing. And you have to organize everything before November 1st», continues Hervé Champenois. Reinforcements will come from the affected regions, but also – above all – from those which will not be affected.

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Tuesday 31. The weather forecasts are getting better. “A more precise bulletin gives us the go to be pre-positioned in cities like Le Mans. People from the East, a region 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 sail in a second step», relates 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 that we have not seen for 20 years. Before noon, first conference call to organize everything and also to send off the equipment. Everything must be on site on Wednesday so that interventions can begin on Thursday morning.

Wednesday November 1st. The teams are on site. Some had a day’s journey to arrive. They can take a few hours off to intervene on Thursday morning. In total 3000 people are mobilized, “which allows you to have a striking 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. At 3:30 a.m., there were 600,000

Hervé Champenois, technical director and member of the management 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», remembers Hervé Champenois. A balance sheet that will crescendo, 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 Pays de la Loire. The race against time is on. People and materials must be located to be able to intervene. The Rapid Electricity Response Force (FIRE, created after the 1999 storm) was triggered, which formalized the handling of the emergency. The first interventions begin in the morning.

Saturday 4. It’s amazement. A Enedis employee was electrocuted while working on a medium voltage line in Pont-Aven (Finistère).

Sunday 5. By 6 p.m., electricity was restored to 90% of homes. There remain 114,000 homes to be replenished, 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 heavy rainfall caused major damage to power lines and even destroyed equipment (downed wires, broken poles, crushed distribution stations, etc.). The heavy rains also soaked the ground, making access difficult for vehicles in the impacted areas..

Saturday 11. Enedis announces that it has restored “98.3% of households affected“. There remain 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 1,200 are still without electricity.

Friday December 1st. The work continues. To enable consumers to quickly regain electricity, Enedis initially favored “re-powering by remote operation, network repair operations and, in certain areas, the temporary shutdown of generators.. Temporary repairs have also been carried out, these may involve lines pulled to the ground for example, which are then taken up again.

This consolidation phase lasts two months. It will be followed by a reconstruction phase, and based 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 the low voltage networks which are those which have suffered the most. Investment proposals will be made from January. “It is an approach like this that has made the coastal zone of Finistère more reliable.», concludes Hervé Champenois.

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