Regulated electricity prices in France could see another rise from February next year, the energy regulation commission has suggested but this has not been officially confirmed by the government.
In a non-definitive estimate, the Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE) said that prices could rise again after two rises in 2023.
The CRE president, former minister Emmanuelle Wargon, made the suggestion during a press conference, saying: “It is a little early to work out the equation for regulated tariffs [TRV, tarifs réglementés de vente]; we need to wait and see what the prices are at the end of 2023.
“Nevertheless, we will be calculating the theoretical TRVs compared with the frozen TRVs, which will mean a much smaller increase than [what we saw] last year. It will be in the 10-20% range,” reported Ms Wargon to news agency Reuters.
‘A market that doesn’t work’?
Some opposition MPs from La France Insoumise seized on the ‘announcement’ and wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the rises of 10-20% were definite, as a way to criticise the government’s approach to energy and public spending power.
One MP, François Ruffin, called “more than ever” the need to “freeze prices and take energy off the market. People in France should not have to pay for a market that doesn't work and a government that lets this happen,” he said.
+15% en février, +10% en août, ça ne suffisait pas : il faut une nouvelle hausse du prix de l'électricité de 10 à 20% en janvier 2024 !— François Ruffin (@Francois_Ruffin) September 14, 2023
Plus que jamais : blocage des prix et sortie de l'énergie du marché ! Les Français n'ont pas à payer pour un marché qui ne marche pas et un... https://t.co/UwXveOfmjA
Later, however, the CRE president said that her comments were not intended to be seen as a definite forecast.
Ms Wargon then added to her comments on X, saying: “So let u be clear: this is simply an order-of-magnitude forecast of the theoretical calculation, and in no way an announcement of an increase in the electricity TRVs. Sorry, no scoop.”
Alors précisons les choses : il s'agit d'une simple anticipation, en ordre de grandeur, du calcul théorique et en aucun cas d'une annonce de hausse des TRV de l'électricité— Emmanuelle Wargon (@EmmWargon) September 14, 2023
Désolée, pas de scoop. https://t.co/w2nQWOgJdN
Government has final decision
In fact, the final say on price rises comes down to the Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, who has already said that he has “ruled out” a 10-20% rise for the start of 2024.
Ms Wargon herself stated this. She said: “It is important to separate the calculation of the theoretical TRVs, which is the application of the calculation formula, from the decision, which is the responsibility of the government.”
On September 14, Mr Le Maire stated: “"An increase in electricity tariffs of 10 to 20% at the beginning of 2024, as indicated by the CRE president, is out of the question.”
Rising bills limited
TRVs have already risen twice this year (2023).
By February 1, 2023, they had risen by 15%, with the most recent rise by 10% on August 1. These increases marked the end of the price freeze shield (the bouclier tarifaire) which had been in force since autumn 2021.
However, these price rises do not mean that the government is set to abandon the bouclier tarifaire or financial assistance for energy bills. In fact, bills continue to be subsidised via a reduction in relevant taxes.
The cost of this scheme is estimated at €30 billion for 2023 alone. Regulated prices, even with these increases, still ensure that those in France can buy electricity at a lower rate than their European neighbours.