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Bulb electricity firm switches off French operation amid surging costs

Customers are being automatically moved to EDF, which claims that they could save money as a result

19,000 French clients have seen their electricity supplier changed to EDF Pic: Daniele Mezzadri / Shutterstock

UK electricity supplier Bulb has switched off its French operation after its British operation went into special administration in November.

Its 19,000 French clients have been moved automatically to EDF and, in an email sent to clients, the company says the switch might see them save money compared to their present Bulb accounts.

“The difficult decision to shut Bulb in France has been taken,” a spokeswoman told The Connexion.

“The Bulb members [its name for clients] do not have to worry about their electricity supply because they are being switched automatically to EDF.”

She added: “Bulb would like to thank all its members and its staff. Bulb has been profoundly affected by the global energy crisis and its consequences on electricity wholesale prices.”

Bulb was one of the more successful British alternative energy suppliers, with its promise of supplying only renewable, non-nuclear electricity.

It began its French operation in 2020.

In a press statement, the company said it had tried all options possible to save its French activities, including trying to sell the business to someone else, but in the light of continued price rises in the electricity wholesale market, it became evident that carrying on was not possible.

One of its French clients was Nick Jenkins (a contributor to The Connexion), who said he was disappointed because, until now, the Bulb electricity supply had been easy to manage.

“We are with Bulb in the UK which is why we chose them in France,” he said.

“Our problem with EDF was with their monthly billing system – we never knew how much we had to pay.

“One year, after the annual reading, our monthly bill was mysteriously doubled to almost €200 for a second home! 

“Then the following year we were given back half the money [for the year], around €1,000.”

The Jenkins have just had a Linky meter fitted to their south-west French home and hope that by using it, they will be able to keep track of their consumption and make sure EDF matches their bills to it.

In the press release, Bulb says the standard “Tarif Bleu” of EDF, which is regulated by the state, is presently 15% cheaper than the equivalent Bulb tariffs were.

The médiateur national de l’énergie in France said Bulb clients were able to change to other suppliers from EDF if they wanted to and its website has a company comparison tool to help people decide which electricity supplier to choose.

It said that all outstanding mediation cases between Bulb and its customers had been cancelled as Bulb no longer had any standing in France.

Bulb’s switch-off comes as tensions mount in France over the government’s promise to keep rises in electricity prices to a maximum of 4%, where the wholesale markets have seen an average rise of 45%.

Read more: EDF to sell more cheap electricity to competitors to keep prices low

Estimates of the cost of the promise, which involves increasing the amount of low cost nuclear electricity from EDF available at a low fixed price to EDF’s competition, come to €8billion, and unions are threatening a strike tomorrow (Wednesday 26) to protest.

They say the bill will cut short EDF’s strategic plans, which involve a move to more renewable energy.

Unions are also reported to be considering a legal challenge against the government, which holds 84% of the capital of EDF.

The government has also lowered taxes on electricity,  at an estimated cost of another €8billion, and said it has received approval from the European Commission for the measures.

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