* Strikes reduce French power generation by 2 GW
* Protests hit nuclear and hydro power plants
* Unions have called for strikes over pay
* Day ahead power prices soar (Adds details, output curb at Fessenheim, power prices, background)
By Bate Felix
PARIS, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Strikes reduced electricity generation at two nuclear power reactors operated by French utility EDF on Tuesday, the country's RTE power grid operator said, pushing short-term power prices sharply higher.
France depends mostly on nuclear power for its heating needs and the curb in output comes as a prolonged cold weather snap is forecast for this week, which is expected to push up demand.
RTE said output at the 900 megawatt (MW) Cruas 4 reactor was cut by 720 MW, while another strike, which started on Monday, reduced output at the Penly 2 nuclear reactors by nearly 900 MW.
A strike also reduced French hydro power generation by 370 MW, RTE said. It did not give reasons for the strikes.
The energy branch of France's hardline trade union CGT has called several strikes this year at EDF plants in protest over wage negotiations and the government's plan to restructure the company.
It has also called for a nationwide protest on Nov. 29, following a strike on Nov. 13 which cut French power output by around 6 gigawatts.
EDF declined to comment on the reasons for the industrial action at Penly 2 on Monday, but said its priority was to ensure the safety of its nuclear facilities while respecting the rights of employees to strike.
A separate output reduction at EDF's Fessenheim 2 nuclear reactor due to environmental reasons, was extended on Tuesday, RTE said. Output at the reactor was down by around 40 percent.
The French day-ahead baseload power price for Wednesday delivery soared nearly 35 percent to 125 euros ($143.19) a megawatt hour (MWh) in early trade on Tuesday with the forecast also showing that wind power generation will fall on Wednesday.
The equivalent German spot contract rose nearly 30 percent to 59.20 euros/MWh. Electricity production from German wind turbines is expected to plunge by over 11 GW day-on-day on Wednesday to 16.8 GW, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. ($1 = 0.8730 euros) (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Kirsten Donovan)
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