Skyrocketing electricity bill: “Mayors ready to hand over their keys” – Energy prices: public services threatened

The Finistère municipalities that are members of the Sdef-29 are currently receiving letters announcing dizzying increases (by more than 200%) in their electricity bill. What reactions do you get back?

This letter warns our member communities, employing more than ten agents, that the increase in the price of the electricity market (€47/MWh in October 2019, €1,000/MWh on August 26, 2022!) will result in an increase substantial part of their 2023 bill. This will not be sustainable in their (operating) finances and will destroy investments. Mayors are already telling me that if they cannot balance the budgets of their municipalities (an obligation), they are ready to hand over the keys of the town hall to the prefect. This is what is likely to happen if we do nothing.

President of the Finistère departmental energy and equipment union (Sdef), the mayor of Plourin, Antoine Corolleur, joins the voices of local elected officials who are asking the State for an energy tariff shield. If nothing is done, his municipality will suffer a 285% increase in its electricity bill in 2023. Of the same order as many other municipalities. (LAURENT CHARBONNIER)

Precisely, how to act to attenuate the note?

I am in Rennes, at the moment, at the congress of energy unions representing more than 800 local authorities in France. Like the Sdef and the association of mayors of Finistère, through a motion, or Senator Jean-Luc Fichet, through an intervention with the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, we ask the government the application of an energy tariff shield in the communes undergoing these strong increases. We will never obtain the ceiling of 15% guaranteed to small municipalities, but at least this will not be multiplied by two or three.

The municipality of Plourin, of which you are the mayor, is also undergoing a forecast increase in its considerable electricity bill (+ 285%) while a photovoltaic power plant has just been inaugurated and the electricity needs of the inhabitants are largely covered. . How do you explain this contradiction?

Because the electricity produced locally goes into the general grid, sold to suppliers and we buy it at the market price.

Doesn’t the soaring bill encourage communities to support local and ecological productions supplying their territory?

Self-consumption will develop but it remains complicated at the operational level. It would be necessary to create a society of users whose surplus production could be sold. There are not many such equilibrium structures yet. If we want to accelerate the energy transition, we should also simplify the administrative procedures around the projects. Another solution would be to allow, by law, the purchase of electricity over the counter, through the Sdef or another union. These contracts, over several years (beyond the current limit of four years), give safeguards to local authorities against rising prices and reassure investors. At present, it is the European market that sets the prices, letting them do it. While some stick out their tongues, others make superprofits. Politicians tend to forget that electricity is a basic necessity. The increase in its cost will aggravate precariousness.

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Departmental Syndicate of Energy and Equipment of Finistère.  It manages the electricity and gas purchasing group for communities but also nursing homes, high schools, colleges and other public establishments in Finistère that are members.  The next three-year contract (2023-2025), awarded to Engie for electricity and TotalEnergies for gas, includes 10,687 Finistère sites.

Energy prices: public services under threat