Electricit�e France (EdF) will launch its second auction of electricity production from “virtual power plants” in the first week of December, it announced Monday.

The state-owed power group will auction rights on 400 megawatts of base load power and 100 MW of peak load, for contract durations from three months to three years, for electricity delivered from Jan. 1, 2002. The auction will be preceded by a conference for new participants on Nov. 5.

EdF kicked off the first Internet auction in mid-September when 1200 MW was offered. The auctions attracted interest from 40 companies and 20 were awarded drawing rights or capacity.

EdF offered to hold an auction for drawing rights and production totalling 6000 MW through 2003, to win European Union clearance of its purchase of 34.5 per cent of German power company Energie Baden Wuerttemberg AG.

The auction has been heavily criticized because the first phase did little to inject much-needed liquidity into the French wholesale market for electricity. The total amount, 6000 MW – is also expected to do little to boost competition in France, since it represents around 6 per cent of EdF’s installed generation capacity in France.

Participants will bid for drawing rights from virtual power plants on specified terms and conditions. EdF is also making available additional electricity in the form of power purchase agreements.

Interested participants are expected to register through the EdF web site (www.edf.fr) by November 19.