Three million homes face gas bill rises of up to 12.6% in France
The increase will mainly affect Engie customers and especially those with gas central heating. Changing to a fixed rate contract can save up to 16%, a specialist consumer body claims
The price of gas is rising in France and across global markets. Pic: Chepko Danil Vitalevich / Shutterstock
Regulated rates for gas power in France are set to rise by an average of 12.6% on October 1, the highest monthly increase recorded since 2013.
France’s regulated gas tariff is decided by the Economy and Energy Ministries and the Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE), an independent body responsible for overseeing France’s electricity and gas markets.
The resulting rate – which often changes monthly – is applied by Engie and Entreprises Locales de Distribution (ELD), while their competitors set their own prices.
The CRE says the regulated rates rise will affect around 3 million of France’s 10.5 million residential gas consumers, “of which 2.77 million are with Engie.”
“It represents just 7.5% of national gas consumption,” it added.
For affected customers who cook with gas, costs will rise by 4.5%, jumping 9.1% for people who use it for cooking and hot water and up to 14.3% for houses with gas central heating.
Among the 7.6 million consumers who are with a supplier other than Engie, about 5.5 million are on a fixed price offer and so are not affected by changes in regulated rates.
October’s regulated tariff rise makes for a total increase of 57% this year according to Les Echos, a rapid inflation of prices which is reflected across global markets, as major suppliers Norway and Russia struggle to keep up with heightened demand in the approach to winter.
The CRE stated that: “France does not have natural gas reserves and imports 99% of the amount it consumes. The country is therefore exposed, like the rest of Europe, to price variations in the European and global markets.”
On September 15, the government announced that it would be sending out an extra €100 “energy cheque” to 5.8 million lower-income households this year to help them cope with the rise in prices.
The CRE predicts that energy prices will remain “very high” throughout autumn and winter, before falling in spring 2022 and “returning to normal in 2023.”
It added that it is considering the possibility of levelling out prices during the winter and spring to balance out the expected rise and fall of rates.
On July 1, 2023, regulated tariffs will disappear under the 2019 Loi Energie-Climat and consumers will need to choose from the offers of commercial providers.
How can I keep my gas bills down?
Frédérique Feriaud, general director of services with independent public authority and consumer body Médiateur de l’énergie, advises households to seek out fixed tariffs to avoid the impact of monthly changes to regulated rates.
“Nowadays, there are fixed price gas plans which are quite competitive, or even very competitive in relation to the regulated rates, with possible savings of up to 16%,” she told Franceinfo.
Customers are advised to assess their options on a comparison site such as the government’s online service.
After making their choice, all they have to do is begin a contract with their new supplier and the cancellation of their old account will happen automatically. This method of transferral should be free of charge and will ensure that the customer is not cut off from their gas supply at any point.