Socialist upsets French industry as nuclear energy edge vanishes
By Bloomberg News
Published: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 9:12 p.m.
PARIS — French industrial groups are up in arms as their once-celebrated nuclear energy edge evaporates.
After decades when their factories churned out everything from steel, glass and chemicals with one of the cheapest power prices in Europe, thanks to the country's 58 nuclear reactors, French companies' competitive advantage is being whittled away as the United States' embrace of shale gas cuts energy prices there and Germany gives businesses fiscal breaks against higher electricity costs.
Electricite de France's nuclear reactors, which make France the most reliant on atomic power in the world, will need billions of euros of upgrades just as more costly renewable power is being deployed.
Both threaten to push electricity prices as Socialist President Francois Hollande struggles to make French industry — with more jobs losses than any other European country in a decade — more competitive in the face of an economic slump and a trade deficit that's near a record high.
“French energy used to be competitive,” said Emmanuel Rodriguez, head of energy for the French unit of ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, which also has operations in Germany. “This model is crumbling. Germany is now better than us whereas a decade ago they were much more expensive.”
French power prices for big industrial users are projected to average as much as 25 percent higher next year than in Germany, according to Uniden, a lobby whose members consume 70 percent of electricity used by industry in France.
Large French factories will pay about 46 euros, or $62, a megawatt hour compared with about 36 euros in Germany, the lobby estimates.
“We are in survival mode,” said Jean-Paul Aghetti, a Uniden director. “Our competitiveness is at stake. It's now a myth that French electricity is the most competitive in Europe.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Western Pennsylvania engineer aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Syrian rebels reportedly release nuns held since December
- ‘Dead’ Mexican drug kingpin Moreno likely killed in shootout, official says
- Ukrainian leader will meet Obama in U.S.
- Libya says its forces near oil tanker
- Toronto mayor’s staff in dark on daylight saving
- Israel: Iranian shipment contained 40 rockets
- Suicide car bomb, attacks kill at least 42 in Iraq
- Eastern European military officers say security, economic ties blunt Russia’s war threat in Ukraine
- Egypt military chief a near lock to run for president