AFP, Posted on Wednesday, October 05, 2022 at 3:42 pm.
On Wednesday, the state called for “solidarity” of gas and electricity suppliers with the companies, while promising to provide its guarantees to facilitate the signing of contracts in conditions of “deceptive prices”.
The main energy companies, including EDF, TotalEnergies and Engie, were called to a meeting in Bercy by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who last week accused them of “not playing the game” by inflating prices offered to small and medium-sized businesses. enterprises. .
Today, 1.5 million very small businesses are eligible for the tariff shield, which limits the rise in energy costs, Bersi said, but others are being offered offers during contract renewals at “outrageous prices”.
“Too many unacceptable cases have come to us: invoices with inflated prices, terms of contracts that are revised unilaterally, insufficient visibility of contracts,” the minister emphasized at the end of this meeting.
To ensure that companies are not left without an energy contract, the state will take over the “risk premium” that suppliers demand from companies to guarantee their possible default. “The state will establish a state guarantee for the bank guarantees that suppliers request from their customers when signing contracts,” explained Bruno Le Maire during a press briefing with several ministers, including Agnes Panier-Runacher (Energy Transition).
Tenant Bercy emphasized that this is a “fundamental and completely innovative element in energy contracts.”
“The principle is that the state assumes part of the risk in the event of a customer’s default,” a ministry source told AFP. The goal: “to lower the cost of energy and allow more companies to access more offers.”
– Price restrictions –
Suppliers invited to participate in “solidarity” must reciprocate with efforts and good practices. Major players in the energy sector have made a charter commitment to “make at least one commercial offer to any addressable professional consumer who requests it”, according to this code of conduct consulted by AFP.
In the charter, energy suppliers, in particular, promised to notify customers who are not entitled to a regulated electricity tariff “at least two months” before the renewal or end of the contract.
Among the suppliers and producers summoned to Bercy were also the French Electricity Union (UFE), the National Association of Retail Energy Operators (ANODE), the Independent French Association of Electricity and Gas (AFIEG), as well as representatives of local distribution companies.
The minister warned that if the “abuses” persist, they will be “sanctioned” based on investigations by the Anti-Fraud Commission and the Commission for Energy Regulation (CRE).
To help companies better decipher offers, CRE, the energy police, will also publish a “reference price” for electricity on its website in the coming days, which will be updated every week. Targeted at companies with fewer than 250 employees, this information will be broken down according to the profiles of several professional consumers.
“We will not let you down,” the Minister of Economy promised “all companies”, of all sizes, reminding that the envelope of 3 billion euros was available in one window.
“We will not allow rents to be raised on fraudulent energy prices,” Mr Le Maire also warned, detailing a European mechanism aimed at capping the cost of a megawatt hour for producers at €180.
Mr Le Maire explained that money earned on the market by energy companies above this €180 per MWh cap would be used by the government to help companies and communities hit hard by skyrocketing electricity bills.