Energy crisis: 15% increase in maximum prices, promises Borne

Energy crisis: 15% increase in maximum prices, promises Borne

Delivery of water to an EDF hydroelectric plant near Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France, September 9, 2022 (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

France announced on Wednesday its battle plan to spend the winter in the face of Europe’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s: the prime minister called for sobriety and European solidarity to “avoid cuts”, and limited the price of electricity to 15%. gas and electricity in 2023 to protect the French against the historical increase in prices.

Like its European neighbors, the State will continue to spend billions of euros to mitigate the impact of the crisis. An exceptional energy check will be paid at the end of the year to 40% of households, that is, 12 million households: 200 euros for the lowest 20%, and 100 euros for the other 20%.

In the first version of the tariff shield, the regulated electricity tariff had increased by 4% in February 2022, and the gas tariff had been frozen at the level of October 2021. Not only households, but also condominiums, social housing, small companies and smaller municipalities, about two thirds of them according to Elisabeth Borne, will benefit from this rate limited to 15% next year.

Without this “shield”, prices would have increased by 120% according to the government. The State will pay the difference: it will cost 45,000 million “gross” euros in 2023, but 16,000 million “net” euros, after 29,000 million euros in payments from renewable energy producing companies.

If the head of government expressed her fears about a “particularly cold winter combined with supply difficulties”, she insisted that “in the most likely scenarios, if everyone assumes their responsibilities and shows the necessary sobriety, there will be no cuts”.

Electricity consumption of French households
The electricity consumption of French households (Laurence SAUBADU / AFP)

In her first press conference since her appointment at Matignon, Elisabeth Borne stressed that the average bill would increase “about 25 euros per month for homes that heat with gas” compared to 200 euros without a screen, and about “20 euros per month” of electricity. against 180 euros without shield.

For those who heat with oil or wood, the aid voted this summer in Parliament will be paid at the end of the year.

The Government, for its part, recalled that no specific food check was planned soon, but that it did not close the door to the extension of the bonus for each liter of fuel next year.

Marine Le Pen, head of deputies of RN, denounced on Twitter a “double penalty for the French” who “will suffer a 15% increase in the prices of electricity and gas and on the other hand they will have to pay the rate with their taxes shield.”

“Announcing a 15% increase in gas and electricity prices without raising wages, you had to dare!” protested Fabien Roussel, leader of the PCF. The same tone as the LFI deputy Manuel Bompard who lambastes a government that makes “the people and the State pay to forgive the ultra-rich and the speculators of the crisis.”

No “loss of control”

Under the effect of the war in Ukraine, the flow of Russian gas to Europe has dried up, raising fears of winter shortages and causing prices to rise on markets. However, it is gas prices that drive electricity prices.

The operator of the French gas network GRTgaz had already wanted to reassure on Wednesday morning about France’s ability to “cope” with gas demand during an “average winter”, while developing its exports to Germany from mid-October.

Reservations in France are now 95% full.

French electricity production at its lowest level since 2007
French electricity production at its lowest level since 2007 (Kenan AUGEARD / AFP)

The electricity grid operator RTE warned that same day that the “risk of outages cannot be completely ruled out”, but “could be avoided by lowering national consumption by between 1 and 5% in most cases, and up to 15% in the most extreme weather situations”.

For companies, municipalities and individuals, this means reducing or postponing the consumption of heating, lighting or cooking, especially during consumption peaks, between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. hours.

“In no case does France run the risk of losing full control of the electrical system,” RTE said.

2022, year of deficit for French electricity production
2022, a year of deficit for French electricity production (Kenan AUGEARD / AFP)

France’s problem is that 26 of its 56 nuclear reactors are stopped due to work or corrosion problems. EDF reiterated on Wednesday that the shutdown reactors would reopen during the winter, once maintenance operations have been completed, but any delay in these restarts would increase the risk of outages.

The French government therefore insists on the necessary sobriety of companies and individuals, and will launch its promised communication campaign on October 10, under the slogan “every gesture counts”.

An effort at sobriety that will undoubtedly have to continue beyond this winter: EDF, which has published an external audit aimed at reducing its maintenance times, will still have many sites to manage next winter and… until 2025.

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