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National electricity provider EDF calls for 20% price hike

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-09

French electricity provider EDF says it wants to raise tariffs by 20% to make up for debts in excess of 24.5 billion euros, but it may have a hard time persuading the government to approve the hike.

French electricity provider EDF is pushing for a 20% rise in electricity costs for consumers over the next three years, with the goal of bringing the company out of tremendous debt, chief executive Pierre Gadonneix has announced.

In order to finance its investments and acquisitions, EDF has accrued 50% more debt since last year, in excess of 24.5 billion euros. The company was saddled with debt worth 16.3 billion euros last year following the acquisition of British Energy.

The announcement comes as EDF reveals it has raised around 3.2 billion euros via a bond issue aimed at private individuals.

“If we don’t raise our prices, EDF will have to reduce its investments next year,” the company’s chief executive said.

The problem, according to Gadonneix, is that the “tariffs do not follow the rate of inflation.” He added, “If, for the last 25 years, the price of electricity had followed [inflation], the current prices would be 40% higher than they are.”

Tariffs for electricity are revalued annually by the French government, which receives a non binding request from EDF and input from the Commission for the Regulation of Energy.

The consumer organization CLCV has protested at the move. Its delegate general, Thierry Saniez, described the suggested increase of 20% as “totally disproportionate.” He called for “much greater transparency” regarding the revaluation of electricity prices.
 

Date created : 2009-07-09