British EDF customers pay twice as much as French for energy

·3 min read
EDF energy prices uk france energy crisis uk
EDF energy prices uk france energy crisis uk

EDF energy customers in Britain are paying almost two-and-a-half times as much as their counterparts in France after Emmanuel Macron imposed strict caps on price rises.

EDF customers in Britain have had their bills capped at £1,971 by energy regulator Ofgem, while French customers on regulated tariffs face bills of around €950 (£803).

The French president has told state-owned EDF it can only increase bills by 4pc this year to shield households from soaring energy costs, meaning customers face a rise of €38 to €988 a year. But in Britain, customers are preparing for bills to rise by more than 80pc to around £3,582 in October.

Customers face even more pain next year as annual energy bills will soar to more than £5,000 next April, according to a grim new forecast.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, may have to set the price cap at £5,038 per year for the average home amid elevated gas prices, energy consultancy Auxilione said.

Boris Johnson led talks with energy sector representatives on Thursday over ways the sector can offer relief for households.

The Prime Minister warned bosses that high energy prices risked damaging the sector, but no new policy steps emerged from the discussions. The Government has not ruled out imposing a windfall tax on electricity generators to help fund aid for households struggling with bills.

Experts said the cap could hit £4,467 in January, which is likely to be a more worrying figure for families as they use the most energy in winter. Such a scenario would leave the average household paying £571 for energy in January. Auxilione warned the cap is likely to remain above £4,000 throughout next year.

Auxilione said there was little that could be done to directly bring prices down.

Its analysts wrote: “It seems there is little appreciation for just how impossible that task really is and that energy companies and the Government have little control over this in such a globally influenced market.”

In France, the government has forced EDF to sell electricity generated by its ailing fleet of nuclear reactors to rival suppliers at well below market prices so it can maintain low prices for consumers. Mr Macron has also launched plans to nationalise EDF so he can have more control over the company's plans for consumer prices.

The French state is poised to pay up to €10bn to buy the 16pc stake in EDF that it does not already own.

EDF is currently suing the government for €8.3bn (£7bn) over the losses incurred as a result of the price controls.

Stephen Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, said: "The government owns EDF and said they will buy the rest, so I guess they can do what they want, although they will have to pay for it."

A spokesman for EDF said the company could not confirm the precise annual bill for customers on its regulated tariff but that price rises would be limited to €38 this year.

She said: "It will change depending on the individual. It depends on each client, the size of the house, the size of the family, and other things. The structures of the prices are different from the UK."

EDF has been rocked by the shut down of large numbers of its nuclear power plants in recent months.

The company has closed down about half of its nuclear fleet to fix corroded equipment in the plants and has repeatedly cut forecasts for its power output due to the problems.

Professor Thomas said EDF will be "scouring the continent for power" in winter if its power stations fail to re-open.

He said: "If they've got a significant proportion of their reactors offline in winter, they will be importing gas-fired generation from anywhere and anyone that can provide it.

“That will be produced using gas so it will be horrendously expensive. When it gets to winter on a cold day they will be scouring the continent for power."