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Energy bonus/ penalty rejected

The Senate has opposed a government-backed bill creating an incentive scheme for limiting energy use in the home

THE Senate has rejected a Socialist plan for a bonus/malus (surcharge) scheme on electricity and gas.

Proposed by MP François Brottes and supported by the government, the law aims to persuade people to be more responsible in their energy use.

It would set a minimum amount needed for basic requirements - worked out according to region, family size and heating type - where people would pay a reduced tariff, but for heavier usage there would be two penalty levels where costs go up.

The law also includes other measures such as extending the “social tariff” (special low energy rate for low-income families) to four million households instead of the current 1.2 million for electricity and 400,000 for gas.

The proposed law was attacked by both right-wing UMP members and by communists in the Senate, with detractors saying it is too complicated.

Communist senator Mireille Schurch said while she supported the aim of “consuming with moderation”, she was opposed to the penalties, which she said would “mostly penalise the most vulnerable”.

The minister said bringing in the measure – which would not happen before 2014 now – would only mean an extra €30 per household or €30 less if they are careful with their energy use.

She added: “I regret that left-wing senators have been exploited by the right so as to block a law of social justice and ecological efficiency.”

The Communists also called for an amendment adding a “winter truce” on having energy cut off (along the lines of the one that stops evictions at the coldest time of the year, from tomorrow).

The proposed law had been passed by MPs in the National Assembly on October 5 and is expected to ultimately go through as the MPs have the final say, though the opposition will slow the process down.

This is the first time that a law supported by the current government has been rejected by one of the houses of parliament.
Photo:© Marc Dietrich -

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