Faced with skyrocketing electricity prices, harsh winter scares France

According to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, energy prices for households in France have risen 28% in less than a year.

As the crisis and accompanying inflation are hitting the lowest-income households hard, tenants, of social housing face skyrocketing costs, although 35% of them live below the poverty line.

The Ecological Transition Ministry announced an official decree in late September that Enedis, France’s largest electricity supplier, would be allowed to remotely shut off water heaters between noon and 2 p.m. local time, with over 4.5 million people to be affected by these restrictions planned for mid-October-mid-April.

Apart from households, businesses have been increasingly suffering from the energy crisis as well.

Businesses are now finding that their electricity bills are rising five-fold. A simple baker, who normally pays €60,000 (over $58,100) a year, will have to come up with almost €300,000 ($291,086) in the future — almost impossible for many companies to pay.

To address the energy crisis, the French government is taking many initiatives to raise awareness about energy conservation, with the latest one being a nationwide campaign called Every Gesture Counts.

France, which is heavily dependent on nuclear energy – which provides 70% of electricity generation — still suffers from the fact that 32 of France’s 56 nuclear reactors are currently not in operation.

All plants are owned by the state company Electricite de France (EDF). Maintenance work is being carried out on the reactors. Corrosion damage has been detected in some of them. General Director of EDF Jean-Bernard Levy in mid-September assured the restart of the nuclear power plants for this winter.

A September survey by Secours Populaire Francais, a French non-profit organization, found that nearly one in two French people reported having an empty bank account. The subjective impression of being poor is also on the rise, the study showed.

With inflation in France at its highest level since 1985, some 48% of citizens surveyed said they are unable to put money aside due to the general rise in prices. Around 36% of French people are struggling to make ends meet, according to the study.