How can autonomous electric utilities cope?

Funny birthday presents. As it celebrates its one centesimal anniversary this fall, the Municipal Electricity Board (RME) of Luce-lès-Lille, a suburb of Lille, finds itself within the throes of an unprecedented vitality disaster. How can a small electrical energy distribution and provide firm, within the shadow of the enormous EDF, be caught between a public service mission and an elevated context of competitors?

To perceive the issue, we should first think about the situation of those energy boards. Most originated in France after World War I, when energy grids started to weave their internet throughout the nation. However, in 1946, these corporations virtually all disappeared with the creation and nationalization of EDF. “Some, who’re as dependent as we’re on native authorities, have chosen to stay in administration”, says Arnaud Everard, director of RME Luce.

“Our Strength Is Proximity”

In Luce, a city of 23,000 inhabitants, RME nonetheless manages the distribution of electrical energy, slightly than Enidis, the nationwide distributor. But it’s EDF or the non-public competitor that takes care of the electrical energy provide to the house because it has multiplied within the final fifteen years. In France, there are about 150 such autonomous authorities, for instance within the division of Deux-Sèvres or the town of Grenoble. Others stay corporations resembling Électrique de Strasbourg.

“Our energy is proximity,” asserts Arnaud Everard. A bodily reception and the power to intervene in a short time within the occasion of a fault each within the community and in non-public properties. Another benefit for the person: if you wish to set up an electrical energy meter, there isn’t any must name a number of service suppliers. And for the town, “it is an important public service that offers with public lighting specifically,” admits Kathryn Grier, Luce’s metropolis assistant.

On the opposite hand, the vitality disaster coming his approach worries the RME chief. “Most of our prospects nonetheless profit from the regulated gross sales tax, below a contract that binds us to EDF, however this disaster nonetheless has monetary implications for us. »

A deliberate photovoltaic farm

And for unregulated tariffs, the invoice can be very heavy. “For a small construction like ours, which employs fifteen folks, worth volatility can name into query the viability of the corporate,” provides Arnaud Everard. There are worth adjustments from in the future to the following. For 2023, our advertising plan already foresees the worth per MW multiplying by 4 or 5.

Faced with this problem, the answer stays to generate electrical energy ourselves. Luce RME took the lead by beginning analysis final 12 months to arrange a photovoltaic farm inside three years. But, within the suburbs of Lille, land stays onerous to come back by and it’ll solely be “overproduction on the margin,” the director admits. “We can base our manufacturing solely on photovoltaics. If we can produce 5% of our electrical energy wants with this challenge, that might already be excellent,” he continued.

The centenary subsequently comes at an essential second for RME. “We are ready for the place of France and Europe to stabilize or scale back electrical energy costs”, explains Arnaud Everard. Because, at its decrease ranges, administration depends on choices taken at increased ranges.

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