France says energy firms agree to tariffs to help small businesses

PARIS, Jan 6 (Reuters) – France’s electricity providers have agreed to provide small businesses struggling with rising prices to pay an average of 10 per cent per month, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. Guaranteed tariff of €280 ($298) for MWh.

“It’s a guaranteed tariff and it’s a huge relief,” Le Maire said after meeting energy executives on Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged energy providers including EDF (EDF.PA) and TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) to do more to help customers cope with a record inflation that has been driven in recent months Energy prices soared to new highs.

Macron has said it is unacceptable for companies to make excess profits when many small businesses are struggling.

Most small businesses in France, which are officially defined as all companies with fewer than 10 employees, are already covered by a 15% cap on increases in household gas and electricity prices.

But when prices soared last year, some needed to sign new contracts on the open market, and without sufficient cash reserves, are now struggling with bills.

Earlier this week, Le Maire chaired a crisis meeting with energy suppliers to help France’s iconic bakeries, many of which were reeling after soaring grain and electricity prices.

Macron on Thursday expanded government efforts to help small businesses and said all cross-sector contracts above the country’s energy regulator’s end-2022 reference price of around 280 euros per megawatt-hour should be reviewed.

However, Le Maire said after Friday’s meeting and “three hours of negotiations” that the newly agreed guaranteed price was a simpler and more effective solution.

He added that small business owners can now tell suppliers they want a guaranteed price through a standardized form.

($1 = 0.9408 EUR)

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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