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EXPLAINED: What your French energy bills will look like in 2023

France's freeze on gas prices comes to an end at the end of 2022, while the four percent cap on electricity price rises also expires - however the government has now announced the price caps for 2023. Here's what that will mean for your monthly energy bills.

EXPLAINED: What your French energy bills will look like in 2023
Bill will rise in France in 2023. Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne held a press conference on the subject on energy bills and announced that, although bills will rise next year, the rise will be contained via a government-imposed price cap.

Here’s what that means for your household bills.

Rest of 2022

The current pricing arrangements will remain in place for the rest of the year – that means that gas prices are frozen at the level of October 2021, while electricity prices cannot rise by more than four percent over the year.

The price freeze refers to the base rate tariff for customers of EDF – this covers around 80 percent of the population of France.

If you have been on a different tariff – for example a peak-time savings plan or a green plan – that has a fixed term, EDF could move you back onto the base rate once your fixed term expires. The different tariffs are usually cheaper so if you come to the end of a fixed-term tariff and move back onto the base rate, you could say a bill increase of more than four percent.

The price cap also only concerns EDF, so if you are with another company they can increase your bills by more than four percent – although for commercial reasons it’s unlikely that the increase will be significantly larger.

Find full details on the exempt tariffs HERE.

January 2023 

From January, gas bills can increase by up to a maximum of 15 percent for customers of Engie (formerly known as Gaz de France). For the average consumer this will represent a rise of €25 per month, although obviously your bill will vary depending on the size of the home that you are heating. If you live in a small apartment, the price rise will probably be more like €15. 

February 2023

From February electricity prices can also rise, again by a maximum of 15 percent. As before, the cap applies only to customers of EDF who are on the base rate tariff.

This will represent a rise of €20 per month for the average customer.

Businesses 

The price cap covers households but also small businesses – those businesses that have a turnover of less than €1 million per year – and the smaller communes such as village mairies.

Businesses that have seen a decline in profits, or those for whom energy bills represent more than three percent of their total turnover, will also benefit from the regulated tariff.

Grants 

Although French consumers are among the best protected in Europe from rising energy price rises, the increase in energy bills – coming in partnership with rising prices for other essentials such as food – will still be tough for those on low incomes.

The government has therefore announced a one-off chèque energie of between €100 and €200 for low income households, which will reach 12 million households – or roughly four in 10.

Despite its name, the chèque energie is actually a cash grant, paid directly into your bank account.

The amount is calculated according to your circumstances – so for example a family with two children where the parents earn minimum wage will get €200, while a family with two children where the net monthly income is €3,000 or less will get €100.

The chèque will be paid “at the end of 2022” – an exact date has not yet been announced – and if you received previous grants and chèques energie it will be paid to you automatically.

The grants are usually distributed automatically to people on low income, based on previous year’s tax declarations, but foreigners and recent arrivals can slip through the net, especially pensioners.

If you believe that you are eligible but haven’t received previous grants, you can go to your local CAF office to ask about eligibility.

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ENERGY

French electricity grid operator to return €1 billion to clients

France's electrical grid operator RTE said on Wednesday that it would hand at least one billion euros back to major power users in early 2023, as its revenues have surged during Europe's energy crisis.

French electricity grid operator to return €1 billion to clients

The exact amount will “match the one-off profit forecast for 2022 with the electricity market under stress,” the largely state-owned RTE said in a statement.

It added that the reimbursement could reach a record of more than €1.5 billion.

The move comes as public pressure is growing for an EU-wide tax on the “super-profits” generated by energy companies as prices have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Almost 380 large-scale electricity buyers in industry would share around €130 million from the pot, RTE finance and purchasing director Laurent Martel told AFP.

The companies include chemical plants, metalworking sites, steelmaking operations as well as paper and cardboard factories.

But most of the payout — around 90 percent — will go to operators of local low- and medium-voltage networks, which bridge the gap between RTE and end users of electricity, from industry to households.

RTE’s revenues have been especially strong this year thanks to fees paid to use its so-called “interconnectors” across national borders.

These depend in part on the difference in electricity prices between France and its neighbours, which soared this year due to the energy crunch from the war in Ukraine and a large chunk of the country’s nuclear reactor fleet being under maintenance.

RTE said that without its plan to bring forward the reimbursement, the payments would instead be spread over several years.

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