France said energy companies agreed to tariffs to help small businesses

PARIS, Jan 6 (Reuters) – French energy suppliers have agreed to offer guaranteed tariffs of 280 euros ($298) per megawatt on average to small businesses struggling with rising prices, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

“This is a guaranteed tariff and it’s a big relief,” Le Maire said after meeting with energy executives on Friday.

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged energy suppliers including EDF ( EDF.PA ) and Total Energies ( TTEF.PA ) to do more to help their customers cope with rising energy prices that have hit record highs in recent months.

Macron said it was unacceptable for companies to reap excessive profits while many small businesses were struggling.

Most of France’s small businesses, which include all firms with fewer than 10 employees by official definition, are protected by a 15% price increase for domestic gas and energy tariffs.

But some needed to sign new contracts on the open market last year, when prices rose and they lacked cash reserves, now struggling with their bills.

Earlier this week, Le Maire hosted a crisis meeting with energy suppliers to help the French brand’s bakeries, many of them after rising grain and energy prices.

Macron on Thursday expanded the government’s efforts to help small enterprises, saying by the end of 2022 all contracts above the country’s energy regulator price of about 280 euros per MWh should be reviewed.

Le Maire said after Friday’s meeting and “three hours of negotiations”, the newly agreed guarantee price is a less complicated and more effective solution.

Small business owners can now tell suppliers they want the guaranteed price in a standardized form, he said.

($1 = 0.9408 EUR)

Reporting by Tasilo Hummel and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Edited by Richard Lowe and Alexander Smith

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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