Utility offer to large customers

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French utility Electricité de France (EDF) is asking its larger customers to pay a little more to switch to green electricity in order to reap the public relations benefits of being seen to be in favour of sustainable development. "Option Equilibre" is the first time French consumers have been offered electricity with a renewable energy appelation d'origine contrôlée attached.

It is only available to industrial clients who use more than 16 GWh year (to be reduced to 7 GWh) and this select few can get their green credentials by switching over a minimum of 15% of their consumption. For each kWh bought by the customer, EDF promises to feed one kWh from one of its own renewable energy plants into the grid.

These plants and their production will be audited by an independent organisation, Observatoire des Energies Renouvelables, the representative in France of the European Renewable Energy Certificate System. Green certificates will be issued as proof of what the client is paying for.

For the privilege of favouring green electricity, the client will be asked to pay a price which is "slightly higher" than the price of a "classic kWh". This, says EDF, is to cover its investment in renewables and the costs of the systems of accreditation, accounting and issuing green certificates. EDF claims to produce 20% of its electricity from renewables, but this counts large as well as small hydro plants in the same category. It still generates 47% of its electricity in nuclear power stations and 33% comes from fossil fuels. EDF has invested in wind power in France through its subsidiary Siif-Energies and also has considerable wind interests abroad, including control of 3500 turbines operating in the USA.

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