Energy: the state will redistribute surplus profits of producers to companies

Bruno Le Maire, entouré d'Olivia Grégoire, Agnès Pannier-Runacher et Roland Lescure, avait convoqué les fournisseurs d'énergie à Bercy ce mercredi.

Posted on October 5, 2022 at 5:26 pmUpdated October 5, 2022, 6:38 p.m

The war effort must be shared by all. That’s the message the government, convinced we are in an energy war situation, wanted to send to energy suppliers this Wednesday in Bercy. EDF, TotalEnergies, Engie and other representatives of the sector were called and left by signing a charter of integrity.

But, above all, they will see that the price of electricity production will be capped at 180 euros per megawatt-hour, as decided last week by the Commission and European energy ministers. “If they sell at 500, 600, 700 euros, that’s very good for them, but they won’t keep their profits,” warned Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance. There is no reason to build up an annuity at crazy prices. The government collects the difference between the limited production price and the market price. All this difference will go to support businesses and local communities. This is a fair leveling mechanism. »

Bruno Le Maire also warned that the measure would be applied to those who would be tempted to leave contracts with the state. More and more renewable energy producers, especially wind power, are leaving their purchase contracts as market prices are now more attractive.

In the coming days, the Finance Bill will be amended to record the decision taken in Brussels. The measure should bring in 5 to 7 billion euros, according to Bersi. “We measure the concerns of SME managers. We tell them: we protected you during the Covid crisis, we will protect you against inflation, in this crisis, which is not cyclical, but structural,” said Bruno Le Maire, adding that he prefers targeting.

State guarantor

“Help is already available, the French are the most protected in Europe. But we must make it clear,” said the Minister of Economy. The €3 billion envelope is already available and companies can apply to the “single window”, which will be simplified in the coming days. The new aid should then expand the envelope once revenue recovers from electricity prices.

“I asked Margret Vestager [la commissaire européenne à la concurrence, NDLR] that the amount of assistance is doubled,” Bruno Le Maire explained in addition. At the moment, the aid is limited depending on the size of the companies – 2, 25 and 50 million euros. So they can reach 100 million. The commission should give an answer during October. “We clearly see that, for example, in the case of Aluminum Dunkerque, the assistance provided was insufficient,” he argued. Perhaps more can be done for strategic enterprises. »

The state will act as a guarantor, and energy companies are increasingly demanding bank guarantees from customers. “Definitely the risk of default is significant, but we come to situations where customers do not find suppliers,” Bruno Le Maire emphasized, admitting that the state is taking on a “significant risk.”

Clearer sentences?

Energy suppliers have made 25 commitments in this charter, signed under the watchful eye of the government. In particular, they will have to offer at least one offer to all their customers, giving them two months’ notice before the end of the contract. The offer must be made on a date agreed in advance to avoid current situations where some companies have a few hours to accept or not accept the offer.

Some professional organizations asked for a cap on proposals, which was not followed. However, the Commission on Energy Regulation (CRE) will put its stone in the building by publishing a reference price every week. “This will give companies a compass that will therefore be able to form an opinion on the level of supply of their suppliers,” elaborated Emmanuel Vargon, president of CRE.

Utilities that fail to comply with these rules or continue to offer unacceptable conditions to their customers may be subject to sanctions following an investigation by the CRE or DGCCRF. They have already taken control of Ohm Energie, which is suspected of reselling nuclear electricity purchased at a low price and of dubious commercial practices.

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