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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Pas de débat, des mauvais choix et une loi à revoir"


"No debate, bad choices and a law in need of revision…"

Who will pay the energy shortage?

Translated Monday 6 October 2014, by Caroline Lefour

Marie-Claire Cailletaud, engineer and spokesperson for the “Fédération nationale des mines et de l’énergie” of the CGT Union. The law which concerns electricity only and ignores the subject of transport does not provide solutions for all the changes needed. According to the unionist, a public energy committee must be created. In L’Humanité Dimanche.

HD. What do you reproach the energy transition bill?

Marie-Claire Cailletaud. Firstly, there is a practical problem. The bill is going to be subjected to an accelerated revision procedure in Parliament, which will not allow the necessary time for democratic debate. As for the content, this is not a law for energy transition. At the CGT, we refer to it as "the energy transaction law". It is the result of an electoral agreement which concerns electricity, and forgets gas, petrol or coal… This is not how an energy policy is developed. The challenge is to meet energy needs whilst reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Energy is a vital product. Yet 3 billion people worldwide have access only to rudimentary forms of energy (wood). In France, 8 million people live in energy poverty. The right to energy is central, as is the battle against global warming. However, this law ignores the subject of transport, the sector most responsible for GHG emission. Only the electric car is mentioned. It does not mention rail, intermodality, river or truck transport. GHG emission is the result of our society’s organization: urbanism which distances people from their place of work, relocation of production which imposes importation and truck transportation of merchandise ... We should be tackling anarchic liberal development.

HD. The environmental crisis is forcing us to reduce our energy consumption...Do you agree with the objectives?

M.-C. C. We contest the objective of halving our consumption by 2050. This goes against France’s need for reindustrialization, our demographic dynamic as well as energy-greedy new technologies. Of course we must be more energy efficient but this objective means that each of us would have to use 54% less energy! As for nuclear, it is not our dogma. But reducing it from 75% to 50% is incompatible with the other objectives. What will we replace it with? 50 % renewable energy? That is impossible at present. The cost of renewable energy is becoming intolerable with feed-in tariffs that are too high. Countries which have developed renewable energy sources also have traditional thermic production (coal, gas...) as a back-up. Meanwhile France is closing those sectors... It’s incoherent.

HD. We won’t go back over the subject of the liberalization of the sector…

M.-C. C. The government is exploiting the situation, to the point of privatizing hydraulic dams. It’s unacceptable. Hydraulic energy produces the cheapest electricity without any GHG emission. It is an essential element for the network’s security and for water management. As for fuel poverty, social tariffs would be replaced by an "energy-cheque". The intention is good because it will also cover oil and wood which is adapted to the needs of the typical fuel poverty profile. But there is no definite basis or amount; it is all still very vague. We are also concerned about the intention to regionalize energy production and distribution. The law allows for the creation of local companies, limited or mixed economy which would link communities and citizens, to create renewable energy production measures. This could be fatal for the national energy service. The regionalization of production would mean the end of tariff equalization and of equality between regions. In response to this, we propose the creation of a public energy committee, a social appropriation of the sector. We are accused of being nostalgic for an old model but it’s the regionalization of production which would take us back to before 1946! There must be debate over this bill. We are warning sector employees and the population. This law would have an impact on energy tariffs. Energy tariffs are fundamental to the industry. In Germany, the choice of renewable energy has increased tariffs. The German government has preserved the industry by not passing on the increase. Only consumers have seen their bills doubled…

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