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Small businesses: How to access French government help with energy bills

The Local France
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Small businesses: How to access French government help with energy bills
A wine bar in Paris (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

The French government has set up an 'electricity buffer' to help small businesses in France cope with rising energy costs - here's how it works and who qualifies.


While households have been protected from rising gas and electricity bills thanks to the price shield, some businesses have faced spiralling bills - including boulangeries left on the brink of closure after electricity bills increased sixfold.

Now the government has announced financial aid targeted at small businesses to help them cope with energy costs.

What is the aid?

The amortisseur électricité (electricity buffer) is intended to protect small businesses from drastic price increases due to rising energy costs. 

The aid is provided for a period of one year, and it is applied directly by the electricity supplier - meaning that your bills will fall. 


It is calculated based on the annual "energy share" - which is specified in the contract with the energy supplier. Typically, this value is either expressed in euros per megawatt hour or euros per kilowatt hour.

Basically, the buffer should reduce the cost of the annual energy share to an annual price of €180 per Megawatt or (€0.18 euros/kWh) for half of the electricity consumed" - excluding the cost of transmission to the network and excluding tax, according to Franceinfo.

Who can benefit?

Any business that is classed as either a TPE (très petite enterprise - fewer than 10 employees and annual sales of less than €2 million) or a PME (petite ou moyen enterprise - fewer than 250 employees and under €50 million in annual sales or €43 million in balance sheet) can benefit, provided they do not already benefit from the bouclier tarifaire (price shield) or other state aid with energy costs.

How to receive the aid

The only step required is for businesses that qualify for this assistance to send their electricity supplier an attestation of their eligibility - a formal document stating that they are either a TPE or PME and do not benefit from any other state aid with electricity bills. The programme came into effect on January 1st.

Companies may also be eligible for assistance with gas bills, you can learn more about whether you qualify by using this simulator

What if the aid is not enough?

After taking into account the effects of the assistance, small and very small businesses whose energy expenses still represented more than three percent of their turnover in 2021 and whose electricity bill (after the reduction was applied) still saw an increase of 50 percent or more when compared to 2021, can also apply for "electricity and gas assistance" from French tax authorities.


A dedicated help desk has been put into place for companies who find themselves in this situation. You can contact them to ask questions at the phone number 0806 000 245. 

You can find the simulator here to see if your company is eligible.

What about assistance for gas costs?

As far as gas bills are concerned, all companies will have access until December 31st, 2023, to the same assistance window for the payment of gas bills.

Tax aid for all businesses

All businesses in France will benefit from their contribution to the public service of electricity, or domestic tax on the final consumption of electricity (TICFE), being lowered to the minimum legal European level in 2023 - or €0.5 euros per megawatt-hour. According to the French government this measure, "represents a support of €8.4 billion for companies between the years of 2022 and 2023."


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