France allowed EDF to raise residential electricity rates 5 percent on Aug. 1 and a further 5 percent next year. Last year, the rates were the second-lowest in the European Union, adjusted for average income, according to Eurostat. Frances regulator agreed with companies such as Direct Energie that the low rates meant they couldnt compete against state-controlled utilities. For years EDF was selling below cost of production through regulated rates, Direct Energie Chief Executive Officer Xavier Caitucoli said today on BFM radio. If EDF is allowed to cover its costs, competitors can compete with regulated rates. Its an important change. The opening of the market to competition has been an obstacle course. Direct Energie is gaining about 6,000 new clients a month, he said. The company, which merged with Poweo SA, had 798,000 power and 227,000 gas customers in France last year, compared with the nations 35 million power and 11 million natural-gas buyers. The markets are dominated by former monopolies, according to the latest Commission de Regulation de lEnergie figures. Direct Energie buys about 80 percent of its power from EDF nuclear output and gas from spot markets, its 2012 report shows. GDF Suez, the former gas monopoly, said this week it would push to gain more power customers after tariffs rose.
‘France willing to help in civil nuclear projects’
However, Pakistan has not yet made a formal request for cooperation in producing nuclear electricity. This was stated by the ambassador of France to Pakistan, Philippe Thiebaud, while talking to mediapersons on Wednesday at Schneider Electricas road show. Schneider Electric is a France-based multinational corporation that specialises in electricity distribution and automation management. It displayed its products at a road show titled aWorld of Energy Efficiency for a better Pakistana on Wednesday. The display focused on efficient electric equipment for different consumers, both domestic and industrial, were displayed. While acknowledging that Pakistan was working with China for civil nuclear power, the French ambassador said it was the countryas own choice. However, he said France was ready to consider Pakistanas request for enhancing civil nuclear cooperation. Responding to a query, the ambassador said France had not yet provided any assistance to Pakistan for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. However, it was providing assistance for smaller projects such as the Gabban hydropower located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jagran project (with a capacity of producing 100MW) and Munda Dam. He also highlighted that France had committed around $300 million to finance different hydropower projects in Pakistan as the country was facing an acute energy crisis. Benoit Dubarle, the companyas country president of UAE, Oman and Pakistan, said the road show would offer a platform to citizens to identify new opportunities and products in the energy sector. aThis is our effort to bring the best technology and expertise in energy management to our customers in Pakistan,a he said. Company representatives told visitors that most of the equipment installed in Pakistan, ranging from power houses and industrial units to domestic appliances, was not energy efficient. aOur equipment is costly but provides electricity efficiency of up to 95 per cent.
France against Romania, Bulgaria joining Schengen zone
Some 20,000 Roma migrants from Romania and Bulgaria live in hundreds of squalid make-shift camps on the outskirts of French cities. Tensions with local communities have made Roma migration a contentious issue ahead of municipal elections next year. Romanian and Bulgarian citizens currently have the right to travel with a passport throughout the Schengen zone, which removes border controls among most EU countries as well as non-members such as Switzerland and Norway. Temporary restrictions that imposed passport checks were put in place when the two countries joined the EU in 2007, and are due to be lifted in January. But each EU country has the right to veto the admission of a member state into the Schengen zone and a vote is expected before the end of the year. Germany said in March that it too opposed the entry of the two countries into the zone. Fabius said France was concerned about the ability of Romanian and Bulgarian authorities to ensure border security. “People coming from outside Europe could enter Romania and Bulgaria and then freely enter the rest of Europe,” Fabius told France Inter radio. “There’s a problem there, we must be sure that Bulgaria and Romania have the means to verify that. “For the moment, it strikes me that those conditions have not been met,” he said. Last week, Interior Minister Manuel Valls caused uproar in the left-wing governing coalition by saying most immigrant Roma could not be integrated into society and should go home.