How to set up your electricity in France
All you need to know about the different electricity suppliers and tariffs in France and how to set up the electricity in your new French property
Electricity suppliers in France
In France the national company EDF owns and runs the electricity infrastructure network. EDF used to have a monopoly on French electricity supply but in 2007 the French electricity market was opened up to competition and EDF must, by law, allow other electricity suppliers to use the network. Although EDF is still the largest supplier of electricity in France there are currently nine other companies to choose from:
Engie/GDF Suez – the national gas supplier which has won over a number of its existing gas customers to a total energy package.
Direct Énergie – the largest alternative energy supplier in France and offers both gas and electricity at attractive rates.
Planète Oui – a green energy company whose electricity is entirely sourced from renewables at rates that are guaranteed to be the same or less than the regulated rates.
Lampiris – another green energy company that offers electricity from 100% renewable sources at a one-year fixed rate guaranteed to be below the regulated rate.
Alterna – created by gropuing together several local distribution system operators to offer both gas and electricity at rates higher that the regulated rates.
Proxelia – similar to Alterna but based only in the north of France and offering electricity and natural gas packages.
Enercoop – another green energy company whose electricity is produced by its members from 100% renewable sources.
Énergem – a green energy company offering electricity from 100% renewable sources at rates roughly equivalent to the regulated rate.
GEG – this company manages gas and electricity networks distribution networks in Grenoble but supplies throughout France.
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Electricity tariffs available in France
Electricity prices in France are broken down into two types of charges: a fixed subscription charge (le prix de l’abonnement), and the per kWh rate. If there are only a couple of you living in your property and you don’t use much electricity then try to find a plan with a low subscription charge. However, if you use a lot of electricity then you will want to find a plan with a low per kWh rate to save money.
In France you can also choose the puissance de compteur, or power rating for your meter. There are nine levels of power supply available in France, from 3kVa up to 36kVa and the subscription charges change depending on the power rating. The average household manages on 9kVa but, say, a couple with minimal needs could get by on 6kVa or less, whereas a family with a dishwasher and two or more televisions and computers could need more. Charges are thereafter calculated on a cents/kWh basis for electricity used, with rates varying according to the option chosen.
Tarif réglementé – (state-regulated tariff) this is set by the government once a year and EDF is the only company allowed to offer it. Many other companies offer an index-linked tariff linked to this or use it as a benchmark for changes to their own variable rate.
Tarif Bleu – this is EDF’s state regulated tariff and there are three packages depending on how much power you require:
Option Base – this offers the same price per unit regardless of the time of day or year it is used. This is recommended for households with few electrical appliances and who can’t be flexible with when they use electricity.
Option Heures Creuse – this offers cheaper electricity for eight off-peak hours overnight. This is recommended for those who can be flexible with when they use appliances like washing machines.
Option Tempo – this offers cheaper electricity at certain times of day as well as on certain days of the year (for example electricity will be more expensive on the coldest days of the year). This could be a good option for second home owners or large households with plenty of electrical appliances that are able to be organised and flexible about when they use them.
EDF’s unregulated tariffs are divided into option base and option heures creuse. Most suppliers have adapted a range of options, including for fixed rate, peak and off-peak rates, an index-linked rate using the state-regulated tariff and green energy options. There are usually various different promotions at any one time.
When it comes to choosing your electricity supplier, the best place to start is a comparison website such as www.energie-info.fr (in French) or en.selectra.info (in English). You provide basic information – location, electricity usage and requirements – and the site puts together supplier offers.
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How to set up an account
If your new property is already connected to the network then simply choose your electricity supplier and package and contact them to open an account (ideally about two weeks before you move in).
In order to open an account you will need:
• Your contact information: name, e-mail address, phone number
• Proof of identity
• The address of your new home, including the floor and apartment number if it is a flat and proof of residence
• The name of your new home’s previous occupant
• Your French bank account number (your RIB)
If you need to install new lines to connect up to the network you can either work with EDF directly, or ask your chosen supplier to act as intermediary.
How to close an account
Don’t worry too much if you choose the wrong provider and discover you could have a better deal elsewhere, as you can change from one provider to another, without penalty, at any time.
If you are moving out of your property then simply call your energy supplier at least 48 hours before leaving to disconnect the electricity. Provide a final meter reading when you move out to get a final bill.
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