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French energy companies call for immediate action to cut back on usage

The alert has been issued amid the risk of winter shortages and soaring prices that threaten 'social cohesion'

The chief executives of French energy companies TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie together called for people in France to "immediately" reduce their energy consumption Pic: Olivier Le Moal / Shutterstock

[Article updated June 27 at 15:00 to reflect government appeal to TotalEnergies to maintain discount measures.]

The chief executives of the three leading French energy companies TotalEnergies, EDF and Engie called yesterday (June 26) for people in France to "immediately" reduce their consumption of fuel, oil, electricity and gas amid a risk of shortages and soaring prices that threaten "social cohesion" this winter.

It comes as Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced earlier last week that France’s energy price cap has been extended to the end of the year.

Read more: France extends energy price cap measure to the end of 2022

"The effort must be immediate, collective and massive. Every little counts," say Patrick Pouyanné (TotalEnergies), Jean-Bernard Levy (EDF) and Catherine MacGregor (Engie) in a rare joint article published in the Journal du dimanche (JDD).

This comes as France, like the rest of Europe, attempts to build up its gas reserves for the coming winter, aiming for 100% full storage by the beginning of autumn, despite the drop in Russian gas deliveries.

Read more: EU votes to reduce Russian oil imports by 90% before 2023

Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher has said that France could soon manage without the use of Russian gas, as long as the country’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) stocks are sufficient. 

“In absolute terms and as we benefit from liquefied natural gas, we could do without Russian gas, assuming that all LNG deliveries arrive on time and that we can top up our strategic stocks,” she told BFM Business on Thursday, June 23. 

In addition to gas supply difficulties linked to the consequences of the war in Ukraine, there are also "tensions" on controllable electricity production capacities in Europe, and reduced hydroelectric production due to the drought, the energy companies stated.

"The soaring energy prices that result from these difficulties threaten our social and political cohesion and impact too heavily on the purchasing power of families,” they added.

National push on energy waste

"The best energy is the energy we don't consume", the three executives emphasised, calling for "awareness and collective and individual action so that each of us - each consumer, each company - changes their behaviour and immediately limits energy consumption on electricity, gas and petroleum products."

The companies called for the launch of a "major energy efficiency programme" and a "national hunt for waste".

"Acting this summer will allow us to be better prepared to face winter and in particular to preserve our gas reserves," they said.

"As responsible industry players, our three groups are committed to actively collaborating," say the bosses, who are more usually in competition with each other on energy transition issues.

Government asks TotalEnergies for continued price cuts 

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced today (June 27) that he is asking TotalEnergies to prolong or even boost its 10-cent-per-litre fuel discount, which it implemented to complement the government's own 18-cent-per-litre discount. 

Mr Le Maire said that the effort had to be "equally shared out", and that everyone could not "rely on the state alone and on public spending". 

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French energy bill cap will not cause 2023 price rise, says minister

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