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Gas prices frozen until next spring

GDF-Suez says new method of calculating prices should mean that household tariffs will not rise on January 1

DOMESTIC gas prices are to be frozen until at least April 2011, giving households a break after a series of price rises earlier this year.

GDF-Suez, which supplies gas to 10.8 million French homes, announced in September that it would not be increasing its tariffs for the rest of 2010.

The prize freeze has now been extended into the first quarter of the new year, according to a report in Le Figaro this morning.

About 90 per cent of domestic gas customers in France benefit from regulated tariffs.

These rates can only be revised every three months - in January, April, July and October - with approval from the energy regulator.

Gas bills soared by almost 15 per cent in the first half of 2010, up 10 per cent in April and 4.7 per cent in July.

GDF has drawn up a new method of calculating domestic gas prices, which are based on long-term costs and are designed to protect customers from sudden changes to wholesale prices.

The new formula has yet to be formally approved by France's energy regulator, but once rubber-stamped will mean gentler changes to tariffs from one quarter to the next.

While gas prices will not rise in January, electricity bills are set to increase by about three per cent.

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