Households should prepare for electricity price rises next year – although uncertainty remains over exactly how steep they will be.
Emmanuelle Wargon, head of the Commission de Régulation de l’Energie (CRE, the French energy regulator), warned prices could jump “10% to 20%” on February 1, 2024, at a press conference in September.
However, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire quickly tempered her remarks, insisting such a large hike is “out of the question”.
Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher later confirmed that statement, telling CNews that “the price of electricity will not increase by more than 10% in February and over the whole of 2024”.
She added: “There is a difference between the CRE’s technical calculation of the theoretical price of electricity and the price that French people pay.”
This is because the government can choose not to pass on the entire amount to consumers.
The actual increase will not be confirmed by the government until the end of the year.
Increases will affect 20 million households
France has so far avoided the eye-watering price increases seen in many of its European neighbours, thanks to the government’s price shield, in force since autumn 2021.
Without it, electricity prices would have increased by 35% in 2022 and 100% this year.
However, the shield is being gradually phased out and regulated electricity tariffs increased by 15% on February 1. On August 1, prices rose by a further 10%.
Any further increases will affect more than 20 million households, as well as 1.5 million small businesses – mainly those who are signed up to EDF’s regulated Tarif Bleu deal, but also people with market-rate contracts that are indexed on the regulated tariff.
However, Ms Pannier-Runacher confirmed that the chèque énergie voucher scheme will be renewed in 2024.
According to the minister, this scheme will “provide support for the most vulnerable households who have difficulty coping at the end of the month”.