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ENERGY

How do I check my French electricity tariff and change provider if needed?

Current energy prices in France may mean it might be worth considering switching to a different electricity provider. But how do you go about this?

How do I check my French electricity tariff and change provider if needed?
(Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

As the cost of living rises, it’s unsurprising that householders in France are looking for ways to cut costs. One way of shaving a few euros off your monthly outgoings may be to change electricity supplier, but how can you do that? When can you do it? And how easy is it?

READ ALSO 6 apps to help you cut your energy use in France

First the good news. Switching is straightforward. Since 2007, consumers have been able to change suppliers at any time without incurring any additional costs beyond settling their final bill with their current supplier.

The question is, right now, whether you’d want to, especially if you’re with EDF. The French government has capped regulated electricity prices at 4 percent rise since autumn 2021. 

READ ALSO French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter

Some smaller electricity companies in France have struggled to keep their tariffs down as prices rise globally, and some have even suggested customers switch to regulated rates offered by EDF.

The price cap will remain in place until the end of 2022. Price increases of 15 percent are already factored in from January 2023, or €20 per month for the average household, when switching might look more tempting.

The price freeze referred to earlier is the base rate tariff for EDF customers – around 80 percent of the population of France.

If you are 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 often cheaper than the regulated one, 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.

Check your tariff

Your tariff – and your consumption – will be explained on your electricity bill. You can also log onto your account area on your supplier’s website to see all the information on your bill.

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

Which supplier

There are several electricity suppliers in France all offering different contracts at different prices. 

In many instances EDF will currently be able to provide customers with the best deals on electricity, although in some cases alternative tariffs which are indexed on the regulated rate may prove to be cheaper. 

That’s not to say that won’t change when prices rise again in future. And it may again become worth your while switching. Your electricity supplier does not have to be the same as your gas supplier.

You can compare available tariffs for your area using the French government’s electricity price comparison tool, whether you know your current consumption or not – the website has a basic estimation simulator if you need it.

After you have entered all your details, the site will show you a list of all your options. You can choose to sort it by the cheapest deal. 

From there, if you choose to change suppliers, you only need to sign up to a new contract with the company you choose. The company will manage the cancellation of your old contract and ensure a smooth switchover.

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ENERGY

Schools, trains and hospitals: How France will handle possible electricity blackouts this winter

The French government has sent out detailed information regarding the possibility of power outages this winter as the country continues to grapple with securing energy supplies in the absence of Russian gas.

Schools, trains and hospitals: How France will handle possible electricity blackouts this winter

The French government has sent out the detailed information to local authorities for use in the event of power outages – something that the government still says is unlikely to happen.

French government officials have already clarified that any power cuts would occur when the energy grid is overly strained, in the event of the combination of unusually cold weather, ongoing problems at French nuclear plants and the failure to buy in extra power supplies from European neighbours.

“We are not saying that there are going to be power cuts, but that it is not impossible,” Olivier Véran, the government spokesperson clarified to RMC on Thursday.

If power outages are likely, information will be available on the Ecowatt website and app, which can be accessed now. Three days in advance, you will be able to see if you are in a “red” zone (meaning energy is highly strained), and one day prior, at 3pm, you will be informed as to whether your département is to be affected by a power outage the next day. Later, at 5pm you will be able to enter your personal address to see if you will be personally impacted.

“The idea is for no one to be surprised”, a government source told regional newspaper Nice Matin.

It should be noted that Corsica is not at risk of blackouts because it is not on the same electrical grid as mainland France.

READ MORE: ‘Ecowatt’: How you should use France’s new energy forecasting website?

These power outages would not occur across the entire country – instead they would affect small segments of the grid, such as individual towns or localities.

Additionally, these power outages would only take place either in the morning (between the hours of 8am and 1pm) or in the evening between the hours of 6pm and 8pm and would not affect crucial buildings such as hospitals. 

Local authorities have now been tasked with preparing an emergency response solutions in the event of a power cut in their area.

A source told the regional newspaper that local authorities will be required to present “load-shedding (power outage) plans that would reduce consumption in the areas concerned by up to 38 percent.”

According to reporting by Nice Matin, France’s inter ministerial crisis unit is working with the assumption that six to ten load shedding operations (power cuts) will be necessary over the winter period, and that these two-hour operations could affect up to six million people at a time.

The documents also provided further detail regarding how people will be impacted during such an event, which is outlined below:

Cancelled trains

If a power outage occurs, trains will likely be cancelled in the affected area to prevent passengers from finding themselves stuck in the middle of a track with the signalling system cut off. Local authorities will be left to decide how to handle city public transport such as Metro systems.

Schools

The French government said it was working alongside the Ministry of Education to develop plans to close schools in the mornings if the area is to be impacted by rolling blackouts. Leaving schools open during power outages could have negative ramifications, considering a lack of heating, alarm systems and lighting. Schools would be open again in the afternoons, as power cuts are not set to take place between 1pm and 6pm. 

Emergency locations

The French government has said that these rolling blackouts could impact up to 60 percent of the French population. However, sensitive sites, such as hospitals, police stations, gendarmeries, and fire stations will not have their power turned off, according to reporting by BFMTV.

Some industrial sites have also been placed on the priority lists to not be impacted by blackouts.

For emergencies, people are still recommended to call the number 112.

READ MORE: Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Severity

Power cuts will reportedly not impact an entire region or départment, but instead will be concentrated to smaller areas. 

Up to 40 percent of people in France will not be impacted by power outages due to the fact that they might be connected to a “priority line.”

Additionally, in terms of who will be affected – it will never be the same area twice in a row and none of the more-than 3,800 high-risk patients who depend on at-home medical equipment will be impacted.

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