France Will Keep a Cap on Gas and Power Price Hikes in 2023

France Will Keep a Cap on Gas and Power Price

PARIS — France will curb electricity and gas prices that are expected to soar in 2023, as its government on Wednesday vowed to extend measures shielding French consumers from a European energy crunch that has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

Élisabeth Borne, France’s prime minister, said at a news conference in Paris that the government would limit price increases to 15 percent — far less than the 120 percent hike that she said was expected without any government intervention.

“That is the commitment we are making,” she said. The plan, the government said, is expected to cost about 16 billion euros, or nearly $16 billion.

Russia’s decision to restrict gas flows to Europe is partly driving that rise. But France is not as dependent on Russian gas for its energy production as some of its European neighbors.

Striking a reassuring tone, Ms. Borne said that in the “likeliest scenarios” France would be able to last the winter without rationing or imposing drastic power cuts — even though its nuclear facilities, which provide about 70 percent of France’s electricity, are currently plagued by technical issues.

Earlier on Wednesday, France’s electricity and gas operators had announced that widespread blackouts over the winter were unlikely but that targeted cuts during consumption peaks were possible.

Ms. Borne said that everyone in France had a role in reducing the country’s overall energy consumption, which the government aims to lower by 10 percent compared to 2021. The government will soon launch a public awareness campaign called “Each gesture counts” that will encourage households, businesses and municipalities to lower heating and turn off more lights.

“Only sobriety and European solidarity will enable us to avoid power cuts and rationing in the most pessimistic scenarios,” Ms. Borne said —

France had already capped gas and electricity prices in 2022, and it has one of the lowest inflation rates in Europe.

But the 15 percent cap announced on Wednesday, which will take effect in January for gas and in February for electricity, is higher than the current one. Ms. Borne said bills for households that use electrical heating would increase by about 20 euros per month, instead of 180 euros, and by about 25 euros per month for those who use gas, instead of 200 euros.

She promised that the government would help 12 million of France’s poorer households cover their energy costs with one-time checks of about 100 to 200 euros.

“The French who are in a precarious energy situation should not bear the brunt of the efforts,” Ms. Borne said.

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