As temperatures plummet across France, the electricity network manager RTE is asking people to be vigilant with their use of electricity.
It said that there were risks of network tension and power cuts in late February if temperatures remain very cold. However, it said the “worst is behind us” as 43 of the 56 nuclear reactors in the country are now online.
RTE directory president Xavier Piechaczyk told FranceInfo that people should, though, still be vigilant. “If we go through a long and significant cold snap…the [available] nuclear supplies will dwindle,” he said.
En terme de coupures d'électricité, "l'essentiel des risques est derrière nous", estime le président du directoire de RTE. Un risque reste possible "autour de la deuxième quinzaine de février", "si on traversait une vague de froid importante et longue". pic.twitter.com/c3jas3ZxHy— franceinfo (@franceinfo) January 18, 2023
RTE is set to publish its electricity use predictions for the next four weeks today.
‘France now better equipped to manage electricity supply tensions’
The comments come after nuclear power output dropped to an all-time low in summer 2022, as many reactors were shut down for repairs. However, over the past two weeks, availability has risen to reach 71.85% of the total availability this week.
On Tuesday, 43 out of 56 EDF reactors were connected.
Mr Piechaczyk said: “If we do find tensions in the system, I will say that France is now better equipped to manage them.”
Data from RTE, published on Tuesday, January 17, showed that electricity consumption across France has dropped by 8.2% over the past few weeks, when compared to the same time period in 2014-2019 (so not including during the pandemic).
What aid is available for rising energy costs in 2023?
As the price of fuel and energy soars, the French government has put several aid packages in place to help people with rising bills. These include:
A €100 fuel allowance for drivers
Since Monday January 16, eligible people in France have been able to apply for a €100 fuel allowance. This targeted assistance replaces discounts at the pump which were open to all and is means tested.
You must use your vehicle for work purposes in order to qualify. The allowance is per person, not household.
‘Tariff shield’: gas and electricity bill increases limited
The ‘bouclier tarifiare’ price shield for energy rises has been in place since November 2021 and has been extended to the end of 2023. However, there are some changes.
The increase in gas bills has been capped at 15% since 1 January 2023, whereas prices were previously frozen. Electricity bills will increase by 15% from February 1, 2023, compared with just 4% up to now.
Households that heat with gas will see their bills increase by an average of around €25 per month. Without the bouclier, the increase would have reached €200.
Individuals who heat their homes with electricity will see prices rise by around €20 per month, compared with an estimated €180 without this measure.
Traditional energy vouchers, fuel oil energy vouchers, and wood energy vouchers
This spring some 5.8 million households will receive the usual energy voucher. The cheque, which is sent automatically to recipients, is worth between €48 and €277.
It can be used to pay gas, electricity and heating oil bills as well as for certain energy renovation work.
In addition, the government has introduced two other vouchers.
Heating Oil: Depending on household income and composition, the ‘Opération fioul’ voucher is worth €100 or €200
Wood: The ‘Opération bois’ voucher is worth €50, €100 or €200 depending on household income and other criteria
Both of these grants can be applied for via this website here. The deadlines for application are March 31, 2023 at the latest for the heating oil cheque, and April 30, 2023 for the wood cheque.
Ma Prime Rénov': Energy renovation work aid
Ma Prime Rénov' allows you to finance energy renovation work. The amount of this grant depends on the work to be carried out and the household's income.
Note that the Ministry of Ecology states on its website that the scheme can no longer be used for the purchase of gas boilers. In addition, the €1,000 bonus for replacing an oil-fired boiler with a gas-fired boiler will be abolished on April 1, 2023.
The maximum amount allowed through Ma Prime Rénov' Sérénité scheme has been increased from €30,000 to €35,000. From February 1, 2023 the ‘comprehensive renovation’ packages will increase for households of medium-to-higher means.
Businesses and small enterprises can also claim some allowances for gas and electricity use, especially companies that are particularly energy-intensive as part of their work.