Defend the public energy service. This is the battle in which the central social and economic committees (CSEC) of EDF and Enedis embarked almost two years ago. At the time, it was a question of confronting the Hercule project. Defended by the government in Brussels, it was finally abandoned last summer, after angering unions, employees and many local elected officials. All feared a pure and simple dismantling of EDF, now 84% owned by the State, as well as the privatization of Enedis, manager of the electricity distribution network and a 100% subsidiary of EDF.
After having launched an online petition to alert the French on this subject, then sent a letter to the 36,000 municipalities of France last year, the representative bodies of the personnel go back to the niche. This Tuesday, May 17, they are organizing at La Bellevilloise in Paris a morning of debates on the future of the French energy system for a varied audience: local elected officials, staff representatives, institutions, experts, citizens or even members of the associative world. . An event dubbed the National Energy Council, “in reference to the National Resistance Council, which gave birth to EDF in 1946”, specifies to the press Philippe Page Le Mérour, CGT secretary of the CSEC of EDF.
Because according to the staff representative, the time is always for resistance at a time when the resumption of negotiations on the reform of EDF, between the new French government and the European Commission, is imminent.
“The project [de réforme d’EDF, ndlr] it’s not in the trash, it’s only in the freezer”warns Philippe Page Le Mérour.
The employee representative bodies are therefore preparing for a “return match” to defend the integrity of the EDF group and call for dialogue. They hope that issues of energy sovereignty, which have become hot since the start of the war in Ukraine, will work in their favor. “We hope that from today, the voice of those who have ideas on the design of the public energy service of tomorrow can be heard”explains the general secretary of EDF’s CSEC.
“If we have a message to pass on to Elisabeth Borne, it is that the future of the public electricity service should not be discussed in cursory terms, under the influence of investment banks”he continues.
The two representatives of the CSECs plead for “a complete renationalisation of EDF” and for “the exit from the dogma of competition and therefore the emancipation of France from the European energy market”.
“That requires very strong political courage. Will Madame Borne have it?” Iasks Frédéric Fransois, General Secretary CFE-CGC of the CSEC of Enedis.
For an emancipation of the European market
Staff representative bodies question the opening of the electricity market to competition in the early 2000s, pursuant to the European directive of 1996, which thus abolished the tariffs set by the public authorities. Since then, prices have been defined by the game of supply and demand on the national electricity exchanges, interconnected between them, and via long-term contracts between producers and consumers.
On these exchanges, price formation is based on the principle of selling at marginal cost. That is to say that the prices per megawatt hour (MWh) depend on the cost necessary to start up the very last plant called in order to meet demand in each Member State, in particular at peak times. However, it is generally a gas or coal-fired power plant, which is called upon as a last resort in Germany, for example. Result: whatever their national mix, or almost, all EU member countries suffer more or less the same price increase, linked to the surge in the price of hydrocarbons.
The organizers of the National Energy Council therefore hold this market mechanism responsible for the current surge in electricity prices. “The galloping price of gas is a real handicap for consumers. This must be regulated other than by public aid”, believes Frédéric Fransois, referring in particular to the tariff shield put in place by the French government to limit the consumer bill.
While Spain and Portugal have just obtained a derogation from Brussels to disconnect from the European electricity market for a year, employee representatives consider that France, whose electricity mix is based overwhelmingly on nuclear, has every reason to obtain, “minimum”a similar waiver.
“Total and final repeal of the Arenh”
“Madame Borne has every reason to bang her fist on the table and have the political courage of her predecessors”insists Philippe Page Le Mérour, referring to Marcel Paul (then Minister of Industrial Production, he proposed the nationalization of energy and organized the creation of EDF-GDF in 1946) and Pierre Messmer (who took the decision , as Prime Minister, to launch the construction of 13 nuclear power stations in 1973 to deal with the oil crisis).
National Energy Council organizers are also demanding “the total and definitive repeal of the Arenh”this mechanism which obliges EDF to sell a certain volume of nuclear electricity at discounted prices to its competitors. “The Arenh was set up ten years ago to organize competition and allow [aux fournisseurs alternatifs, ndlr] to be able to invest in means of production. The competition has not invested in the productive apparatus. The Arenh is no longer based on any legislative arguments”believes Philippe Page Le Mérour.
“When, in France, will we be able to take stock of the opening of the market? What benefits has this brought to citizens? To the economy? These subjects, Elisabeth Borne knows them perfectly. She will have to have a overview”concludes Frédéric Fransois.
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