Electricity and gas prices will be ‘contained’ in France in 2023 and will not skyrocket overnight, the economy minister has said, despite prices continuing to rise significantly on the wider global market.
Current price rises are capped at 4% for those on the historic energy providers' 'regulated' rates, including around 23 million households for electricity and three million for gas.
In an interview this weekend, Bruno Le Maire said: “The 4% cap on energy will remain until the end of 2022. There will be no ‘catching up’ of the cap in 2023, and the price rises that the president and prime minister have spoken about will be contained.”
The minister said that this would apply to gas as well as electricity, but gave no further details.
Gross electricity prices (ie. those paid by French suppliers) are expected to hit a record in France in 2023, reaching more than €1,000 per megawatt/hour (MWh), versus €85 per MWh one year ago.
Gas prices also hit record figures this week, at more than €300 per MWh, making this the highest price seen since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
Mr Le Maire also promised that lower-income households would receive energy cheques “to help those who have the most difficulty paying their energy bills”.
He said: “We do not want inflation to translate to economic brutality for French households. We want it to be mild, sustainable, contained.”
The minister also said that businesses would have access to a three billion euro fund if they are having trouble paying for their energy costs. He also added that 1.5 million small to medium enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from a regulated energy tariff, as well as other preferential energy rates.
He also said that the government “is set to simplify, in the come days, access criteria for businesses that are not otherwise eligible for preferential tariffs, to access help more easily”.
Mr Le Maire said that the government had successfully included this support into its budget calculations. He said: “All the budgetary forecasts have been made by integrating the very strong increase in electricity and gas prices. We will not be caught short [financially].”