2023 is the year of all hazards for household gas bills

French households have been spared rising gas prices this year thanks to a tariff shield, or fixed price agreement, but 2023 will be a tougher course to navigate. How much will the regulated price increase? Who will pay more on January 1? 20 minutes tells you all about gas while resetting the meters (and happy new year)…

How much will the regulated price increase?

The increase will be 15% on average from January 1 for customers who have subscribed to the offer on the regulated sales tariff of natural gas (TRVg) or whose contract is indexed to this tariff. For those who use gas for cooking (base rate) or hot water (B0), the increase may be less, everything will depend on the government order expected by December 31.

Some households, businesses or condominiums that entered into market rate contracts or whose contracts expire in 2022 have already seen their prices explode and struggle. In shared ownership, the rate protector works less well: the help is closed and the building’s guardians or the social landlord have to claim help a posteriori.

Who will pay more on January 1?

About 40% of households. These are regulated tariff Engie subscribers or customers of one of the 22 local suppliers such as Gaz de Bordeaux or other suppliers with an indexed offer to the regulated tariff. Prices for these customers have not changed since November 1, 2021, without which the bill would have increased by 122%. The state paid the difference and compensated the gas suppliers.

At the moment, “we can find contracts at the same level as the regulated tariff, but not cheaper”, explains an energy broker who offers an independent and free comparison of offers to AFP (http://comparateur. energy-info.fr).

Who avoids the January surge?

For customers or condominiums who subscribe to a fixed price offer, nothing changes, often for a year or more. But they are subject to price increases when their contracts expire: some have already increased by two, three or more in 2022. It is advisable to compare offers carefully, as condominiums pay a penalty on termination.

Will gas prices rise further in 2023?

Likely. The 2023 fiscal law extended the tariff shield until June 30. The next day, regulated gas sales tariffs will disappear for everyone, as they are against European law. According to the energy broker, interested customers received several letters and will have to sign a new contract. If they remain passive, they will automatically switch to Engie (formerly GDF Suez) in a contract they did not choose.

On July 1, the Energy Regulatory Commission will set a reference price that can be the basis for the continuation of the tariff shield.

Does rising gas prices reduce consumption?

Gas consumption has fallen significantly in France, as elsewhere in Europe, since Aug. 1, but it’s hard to know whether that’s due to price or vigilance efforts. According to climate-adjusted figures from GRTgaz as of December 18 and compared to the winter of 2018-2019, which serves as a reference, the decrease for households was 14% from August 1.

But the stunning drop in gas consumption by major French producers (-22%) shows that the price increase is actually forcing customers to cut their consumption, as companies are not protected by the tariff shield. Another example: According to the Bruegel Institute, in a country like Belgium where gas prices are not capped, the decline in household consumption reached -20% in November compared to the 2019-2021 average.

Are rising prices a necessary evil?

The question comes as Europe seeks to implement its energy transition and reduce its consumption of fossil fuels such as gas and oil, which emit greenhouse gases. For the Consumer Protection Association CLCV, the growth is unsustainable and the aid is insufficient because “for people with an income of less than €2,000 a month, some spend 60% of their budget on basic expenses, including energy”.

Yes, let’s say on the contrary, some experts emphasize the importance of “price signaling” to promote energy prudence. They argue that price subsidies distorted by government intervention lead to overconsumption rather than focusing on assistance for heating and maintenance.

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