PARIS (Reuters) - France's oldest nuclear power reactor will stop electricity production by April 2020, once a new generation EPR reactor under construction in Flamanville is operational, according to a decree issued in the country's official gazette on Sunday (April 9).
The closure of Fessenheim, in north-eastern France, was a 2012 electoral promise by French President Francois Hollande, who had promised to curb French dependency on nuclear power by shutting down the reactor during his five-year term, while developing other renewable energy sources.
But this was opposed by workers and executives at plant operator EDF as well as opposition parties and some candidates in the French April-May presidential election.
EDF board members authorised its chief executive to seek a decree from the government to keep Fessenheim open at least until six months before the start-up of the new reactor at the company's Flamanville site.
"The decree repeals, at the request of the operator, the authorisation to operate the Fessenheim nuclear power plant owned by EDF, from date of entry into service of the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor," the decree said.
It said Flamanville 3 was expected to enter into production by April 2020 at the latest, and so as to respect France's legal ceiling of 63.2 gigawatts of power from nuclear sources, Fessenheim would have to halt production.
The decree to shut down the 1,800 megawatts Fessenheim plant operated by the state-controlled utility in eastern France came a few days after the company's board decided not to vote to immediately halt production.
The decree is in line with the board's decision that authorised its chief executive to seek government approval to keep Fessenheim open at least until six months before the start-up of Flamanville 3.