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French Power Bills Rise to Fund Renewables; EDF Faces Shortfall

France said household power bills will rise by an average 2.5 percent next year to pay for the increased cost of generating and supplying clean energy.

The change reflects a jump in the so-called CSPE tax, which is designed to pay for renewable and other energy subsidies, Environment Minister Delphine Batho said today. The cost of the subsidies will climb 21 percent, according to the regulator.

France is seeking to fund an expansion of renewable-power output as President Francois Hollande scales back the country’s reliance on nuclear energy. The 3-euro ($3.98) boost to the CSPE levy is less than half the increase sought by the regulator to allow power utility Electricite de France SA to cover its costs.

The tax will rise to 13.5 euros a megawatt-hour next year from 10.5 euros, Batho said in a statement. The watchdog had already said that level wouldn’t enable EDF to meet its costs of supplying renewable energy, special power rates for low-income households and service to rural areas. Unless it’s raised to 18.8 euros, EDF’s efforts to cover its expenses will fall short by 2 billion euros next year, according to the regulator.

Closing that deficit will take “several years,” Batho said. The financing of renewable power will form part France’s policy debate on energy in the coming months, she said.

EDF’s net financial debt increased to 39.7 billion euros at the end of June from 33.3 billion euros at the end of last year.

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