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ENERGY

French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter

Two leading French electricity providers will offer bonuses this winter to households that reduce consumption in the face of soaring prices and potential supply disruptions.

French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter
The new TotalEnergies logo during its unveling ceremony, at a charging station in La Defense on the outskirts of Paris in 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

Russia has slashed gas exports to Europe in response to Western sanctions over its war against Ukraine, while many of France’s nuclear reactors — providing around 70 percent of its electricity — are offline for safety checks or repairs.

TotalEnergies said Wednesday that bonuses of €30 to €120 would be paid to private clients who adopt the government’s calls for energy “sobriety” over winter months.

Usage is measured by smart meters that show real-time consumption, which have been installed for over three million clients, the company said.

Rival energy group Engie also announced a bonus programme starting mid-October for households that cut back on days when the grid is under particular strain.

For clients who reduce use by 10 to 20 percent those days, Engie will offer rebates of five to ten euros, said marketing director Marion Deridder-Blondel.

State-owned EDF — by far the largest electricity supplier to French households — is facing a €29-billion hit to profit from the nuclear reactor outages that will require it to buy electricity from other producers.

It has not announced a new plan to encourage energy savings, but already offers rebates to clients who cut back on so-called “red” days of peak usage in winter.

Worries about rising prices for a slew of everyday goods have moved the forefront across Europe as supply disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine persist, raising the risk of economic slowdowns or even recessions.

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LIVING IN FRANCE

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.

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