EDF has raised its energy prices in France by just 4%, compared to the 54% increase consumers in UK have now been hit with.
Max Channon www.walesonline.co.uk
While it is largely owned by the French state, EDF – which stands for Électricité de France – is one of the largest electricity suppliers in the UK. The UK’s regional electricity companies were privatised in 1990, following the privatisation of British Gas in 1986.
Like all other energy suppliers in the UK, EDF has raised its prices on this side of The Channel after the UK price cap was increased by £693 – or 54% per cent – due to the record increase in global gas prices. However, in France, EDF has been forced to take a £7billion pound hit to protect French households from the price rises.
France’s Government capped the domestic price rises at just 4%. French president Emmanuel Macron – who faces elections later this month – also cut tax on electricity and has pledged to subsidise petrol by 15c a litre.
Ofgem, Britain’s independent energy regulator, announced the 54% energy price cap rise back in February. It said that the increase, that came into force on April 1, saw an increase of £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 per year for UK customer’s on default tariffs paying by direct debit. Prepayment customers saw an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017.
“The price cap is updated twice a year and tracks wholesale energy and other costs,” said Ofgem. “It stops energy companies from making excessive profits, ensuring customers pay no more than a fair price for their energy.”
In a statement released when the UK increases were announced, EDF said: “We know this news will not be welcome and we want to be fully transparent, giving our customers as much notice as possible.
“We will be writing to customers on standard variable tariffs in the coming weeks to explain how these changes affect their own household bills. We’re working with the Government on how the support schemes announced yesterday will be implemented. Customers with questions about these schemes should check our website where updates will be provided, helping to keep our phone lines free for those in need of urgent support.
“At EDF, we have continued providing support to customers, delivering £2.1million of support to customers last year. We are helping customers monitor and reduce how much energy they need through provision of smart meters and online tools and donations of energy efficient white goods such as washing machines and fridges.
“However, all suppliers are struggling in the face of unprecedented energy market conditions with global gas prices having increased by 500% over the past year. Since last summer around 30 energy suppliers have failed. EDF stepped in last year to rescue more than 500,000 customers of failed suppliers, at a significant financial cost.”
Philippe Commaret, Managing Director of Customers at EDF, said at the time: “We know that these changes, driven by global gas prices, will not be welcome news for customers, but we want to be fully transparent and give our customers as much notice as possible. We’ve never stopped offering our customers help and will continue to do so, although the scale of the global problem means we are constrained in how much we can do.
“It is good to see Government acting now to take some of the sting from the forthcoming rise in April, although we know many customers will continue to struggle. We will work with Government to implement the schemes in the best way possible for customers.
“The market also needs longer term reform to ensure we don’t end up here again and Britain needs more of its own nuclear and renewable power generation and greater energy efficiency to reduce reliance on gas from other countries.”
Back in October last year, during a row over post-Brexit fishing rights, France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune had suggested France could cut off Britain’s imported energy supply. Mr Beaune told French radio station Europe 1 that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) agreed as part of the Brexit divorce deal should be “implemented fully”, threatening action if it was not.
Asked what retaliations could be taken, Mr Beaune pointed to both UK exports to France and European energy exports to the UK.
He said: “The UK depends on our energy exports, they think they can live alone while also beating up on Europe and, given that it doesn’t work, they engage in aggressive one-upmanship.”
The UK Government has now promised to take back control of energy prices with its long-awaited energy strategy which aims to make 95% of electricity low carbon by 2030. Ministers are promising “cleaner and more affordable energy” to be made in this country by boosting wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen.
On April 6, Boris Johnson said the strategy, including new nuclear and offshore wind plans, would reduce the UK’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. There has been particular worldwide concern about the reliance on Russian oil and gas since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Under the Government’s fresh plans a new body, Great British Nuclear, will be launched to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity with the hope of up to 24 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2050 coming from the source of power, 25% of the projected electricity demand. It is hoped the focus on nuclear will deliver up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade.
Prime Minister Mr Johnson said yesterday: “We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain, from new nuclear to offshore wind, in the decade ahead.
“This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.”