France's electrical grid operator says it will return at least one billion euros to major power users in early 2023, a record amount, as energy companies have seen soaring profits during Europe's energy crisis.
The exact amount will "match the one-off profit forecast for 2022 with the electricity market under stress," said a statement by RTE, which is majority owned by the French state-owned power utility EDF.
The amount could go as high as 1.5 billion euros. Most will go to operators of local low- and medium-voltage networks that connect RTE to consumers, from industry to households.
Some 130 million euros will go to about 380 large-scale industrial electricity buyers - including chemical, steel, paper and cardboard factories.
RTE's windfall revenue increase this year was in part thanks to access fees it charges electricity importers and exporters to use the cross-border "interconnectors" it operates.
The fees vary according to volumes of electricity going through the interconnections and also the difference in the price of electricity between France and its neighbours.
Energy prices have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and France’s historically low nuclear output, with more than half of its reactors in maintenance.
The announcement comes as public pressure is growing for an EU-wide ‘windfall’ tax on the massive profits generated by energy companies.
RTE said that without its plan to bring forward the reimbursement, the payments would instead be spread over more than six years.