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Enviro-Mental
French Consumers Brace for Green Power Rate Hike

Green power isn’t cheap, an expensive lesson French home and business owners will be learning next year when rates go up to pay for the country’s aggressive pursuit of renewables. Reuters reports:

France’s energy watchdog, CRE, said the surcharge needs to raise 7 billion euros ($7.7 bln) in 2016, up 11 percent from this year.

“The increase in the cost between 2014 and 2016 is due to the development of solar and wind energy sectors, which represent 39 percent and 17 percent respectively of the total estimated surcharge,” CRE said in a statement.

To cover the surcharge, heavily indebted EDF levies a tax on French households’ electricity bills, called CSPE.

Just as in Germany, France is only able to significantly boost renewables’ share of the national energy mix through heavy government support. The costs of that support are inevitably passed down the line to taxpayers in one form or another, and the French will see that borne out in higher electricity bills in 2016.

For France’s richer households, a 10 percent hike in a monthly power bill might go unnoticed, but this is a very real problem for its poorer citizens. For them, power bills represent a larger slice of the monthly budget, making any significant hike a kind of regressive tax.

The current crop of solar panels and wind turbines can’t compete with fossil fuels on their own merit, and rather than hurting the poor by attempting to subsidize these inefficient technologies we’d be much better served funneling funding towards the research and development of iterations capable of surviving and thriving without state support.

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