French grid operator to return 1B euros to clients
France’s electrical grid operator RTE said Wednesday it would hand at least one billion euros back to major power users in early 2023, as its revenues have surged during Europe’s energy crisis.
The exact amount will “match the one-off profit forecast for 2022 with the electricity market under stress,” the largely state-owned RTE said in a statement.
It added that the reimbursement could reach a record of more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.4 billion).
The move comes as public pressure is growing for an EU-wide tax on the “super-profits” generated by energy companies as prices have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Almost 380 large-scale electricity buyers in industry would share around 130 million euros from the pot, RTE finance and purchasing director Laurent Martel told AFP.
The companies include chemical plants, metalworking sites, steelmaking operations as well as paper and cardboard factories.
But most of the payout — about 90 percent — will go to operators of local low- and medium-voltage networks, which bridge the gap between RTE and end users of electricity, from industry to households.
RTE’s revenues have been especially strong this year thanks to fees paid to use its so-called “interconnectors” across national borders.
These depend in part on the difference in electricity prices between France and its neighbors, which soared this year due to the energy crunch from the war in Ukraine and a large chunk of the country’s nuclear reactor fleet being under maintenance.
RTE said that without its plan to bring forward the reimbursement, the payments would instead be spread over several years.
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