France Won’t Tax EDF for Energy Shift, Minister Martin Says

The French government has no plans to introduce a new tax on Electricite de France SA as part of a plan to raise funds from nuclear energy for renewables and energy savings.

“In no way will there be a tax either on the company or its customers,” Environment Minister Philippe Martin said in an interview on RTL radio yesterday. The state, an EDF shareholder, will benefit from the amortization of nuclear reactors.

Martin was speaking a day after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault unveiled a plan for nuclear energy to “contribute” to what the government says will be a shift to more renewables and greater energy efficiency. The prime minister didn’t provide details about the levy or how much it would raise. EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors generate three-quarters of France’s power.

“It won’t be a tax on the company or its clients,” Martin said. “The nuclear activity of EDF though amortizations that are already over long periods will provide sums that could be used by the state as shareholder that could be used to finance the energy transition.”

Carole Trivi, an EDF spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Hollande vowed during his election campaign to reduce reliance on nuclear to half of total electricity output by about 2025. So far, he has announced plans to shut down EDF’s Fessenheim plant in eastern France by the end of 2016.

“We could do this through more renewables,” Martin said yesterday, pushing the question of whether more reactors will be closed to a planned energy law next year. “In any case, nuclear will remain at an important level.”

The energy law will cap nuclear-power capacity and provide the legal means to close reactors, the government has said.

Carbon Emissions

Ayrault, and Hollande on Sept. 20, also discussed a tax on carbon emissions from fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, coal and natural gas that will be “neutral” next year and generate 2.5 billion euros in 2015 and 4 billion euros in 2016.

The tax is one way to raise funds for incentives for home renovations to increase energy efficiency as well as boosting renewables. The country will seek to cut energy use in half by 2050 and fossil fuel use 30 percent by 2030, Hollande said.

Fishermen and transport workers will be exempt from the levy, while industrial plants that qualify for carbon quotas will continue to use their current system, according to Ayrault.

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