EDF Weighs Steps to Aid Companies Stung by Energy Prices
(Bloomberg) -- Electricite de France SA and the French government are considering ways to provide relief for companies exposed to surging power prices, the chief executive officer of the state-controlled utility said.
While the government plans to stem the rise in power bills for consumers and very small businesses to just 4% next month thanks to tax cuts, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday that he and EDF will present additional measures to rein-in energy costs in the coming days.
For companies “that haven’t properly hedged -- there can be cases for which we will be very vigilant, in liaison with the finance ministry’s services -- we’ll have to look if things can be done commercially,” EDF Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy said Tuesday at a briefing to the AJEF journalists’ association in Paris.
EDF and the ministry will have to see what can be done “in particular situations” for companies that haven’t been vigilant on their 2022 power bill, he said.
Asked whether EDF might be forced by the government to sell more discounted power to its rivals, Levy said that this “state aid” to its competitors would need to be approved by the European Commission.
If that solution were to be used, EDF would seek to be compensated for the related financial loss, and clarify if the benefit would be to its rivals or end-users, he said.
Luc Baud, Chairman of HEI, a “hyper intensive” electricity user group that includes Arkema SA, Aluminium Dunkerque, Eramet SA, Ferroglobe Plc units, and Kem One, urged the government to set up a “framework” that will allow these companies to obtain cheap power over the long term to replace expiring supply contracts with EDF.
“If nothing is done and 2023 market prices remain where they are today, these industries won’t be competitive anymore and will disappear,” Baud said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re not in a position to increase our selling prices because of the strong international competition.”
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