industrial concerns about long-term pricing

Bluff or stress? Is this a classic exaggeration during a negotiation with a supplier to obtain a more advantageous result, or a real concern that runs through French industrial circles? Nearly six months after the agreement between the State and EDF to modify the conditions of sale of nuclear electricity, many industrial players are alarmed by the situation.

With a recurring criticism against the new rules of the game: the megawatt hour (MWh) rate proposed by EDF would not be sufficiently competitive, nor predictable in the long term. This supposed uncertainty would weigh both on the current functioning of manufacturers and on their future investments, an essential condition for the decarbonization of French industry as part of the national low carbon strategy put in place by the public authorities.

In November 2023, after tough discussions, the government and EDF announced a new pricing mechanism to replace that established in 2010, and still valid until December 31, 2025, regulated access to historic nuclear electricity (Arenh ). For fifteen years, a megawatt hour was available at 42 euros. An advantageous price for manufacturers, but not for EDF, faced with colossal investments to maintain and develop its fleet.

A temporary phenomenon

From 1er January 2026, the new price will no longer be fixed and will rotate “around 70 euros per megawatt hour”. If this threshold is exceeded, the State will be able to take part of the revenues earned by EDF to redistribute them to customers and amortize their bills: 50% of revenues above 78-80 euros per megawatt hour, then 90% above 110 euros.

Hearing on April 3 before the Senate commission of inquiry into electricity prices, the executive director of EDF, in charge of the customer division, Marc Benayoun, specified that the energy company had signed to date “671 long-term electricity sales contracts” with companies to “durations of four to five years, on a volume of 5 TWh [térawattheures] of annual consumption ». Contracts sold at prices “around 70 euros per megawatt hour”as planned by the November 2023 agreement. A volume qualified as ” considerable “ by the manager, but which remains limited compared to the consumption of all companies in France − around 250 TWh per year.

The approximately 600 contract signatures are mainly explained by the fall in the price of electricity since the fall. But the phenomenon would only be cyclical, according to Frank Roubanovitch, president of the Cleee association, which represents several hundred large industrial and tertiary consumers of electricity and gas. “Prices are reasonable at the moment, but nothing is solid in the long term, because manufacturers have no visibility on electricity prices for the next fifteen years”, explains Mr. Roubanovitch. He emphasizes that “the 70 euros per megawatt hour announced in November 2023 are an estimate by EDF of the market price for the next fifteen years, but it is not a guarantee”.

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