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Electricity bill rises in France ‘limited to 10 percent in 2024’

The Local France
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Electricity bill rises in France ‘limited to 10 percent in 2024’
Electricity bills in France are set to rise again in early 2024. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

Household electricity bills in France are set to rise again in February 2024 - but by no more than 10 percent, finance minister Bruno Le Maire has insisted.

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Government ministers scrambled to reassure the public after the head of the Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE) Emmanuelle Wargon had spoken about impending price increases of as much as 20 percent at a press conference on Thursday. 

“We are going to get closer to increases which will be significant, but which will not be of the order of doubling or more than 50 percent,”  Wargon said. 

“It’s still a little early to do the equation (...), we have to wait to see the prices at the end of 2023. 

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“However, we calculate theoretical TRV [Tarifs Réglementés de Vente de l'électricité] compared to the frozen TRV which will be a much lower increase than what we were able to do last year (...). It will be in the region of 10-20 percent roughly.

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"Throughout this crisis, we have clearly separated the calculation of theoretical TRV, which is the application of the calculation formula, from the decision that comes from the government, namely the part which is acceptable and the part which must be financed by the state budget."

That last comment failed to cool concern that electricity bills would rise significantly, prompting ministers to seek to clarify the situation. 

The government has already said that it will limit increases until December 31, 2024, without specifying details.

Following Wargon’s comments, Le Maire set out to quickly clarify the situation: "A 10 to 20 percent increase in electricity tariffs at the start of 2024 is out of the question," he said, pointing out that the State still pays “37 percent of household electricity bills”.

"We'll be moving away from frozen prices, but we'll keep taxes at their lowest level again in 2024 to guarantee the lowest possible prices for households", he added.

French households were protected from the soaring energy prices in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine thanks to a government-mandated price freeze in 2022. However, this has gradually been lifted and prices rose by 15 percent for domestic gas and electricity at the start of the year.

Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher added: "We will gradually withdraw the price shield, but no more than 10 percent over the whole of 2024", she said on Europe 1 and CNews, adding that, “the French pay some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe”.

The ‘shield’ on prices caused by the energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has cost the French government €25 billion in 2023, on top of €18 billion in 2022. The government plans to spend about €12 billion protecting households from the worst of rising energy bills in 2024 - but a lot depends on the hard-to-forecast wholesale energy market. 

It will be affected by France’s own energy production, including nuclear power, continuing efforts to cut energy use in France, the weather, and the international political situation.

Ongoing price protections will be included in the 2024 Budget, which otherwise has been described as an 'austerity' budget. 

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