Minus 24 degrees. This is what thermometers in the Madrid region showed one night, a fortnight ago. The weather was not the only one to break records. Electricity prices also skyrocketed during this historic cold spell. One hundred and twenty euros per megawatt hour on a Saturday at 8 pm; 94.99 euros on average over these fateful 24 hours. Normally it costs 33 euros. In Spain, where the price of electricity fluctuates according to supply and demand, we know what opening up the market to competition and accelerated privatizations mean. At the same time, in France, the prices of most EDF users continued to be stable because they were regulated. But until when ?
For more than a year, the unions of “energy” agents have been fighting against the “Hercules project”. Behind this epic code name, finally aptly named, hides the last colossal act of the dismantling of the public energy service, launched more than twenty years ago. After two days of well-attended actions and strikes at the end of last year, a resumption of mobilization according to the same canons last Tuesday, electricians, gas, production and distribution, will proceed to work stoppages and will beat the pavement if the Covid-19 leaves them free, on January 28, as part of the call for social mobilizations. Their struggle will not end there. “Until the win”, usually responds Sébastien Menesplier, secretary general of the CGT mines-energy.
Fuel poverty: 13 million people affected
“We are not fighting for us,” he adds. Energy is a basic commodity, but European directives and French laws are helping to destroy the public service which, since 1946, has organized this equal access for all. Thirteen million people in France are in a situation of fuel poverty. We have to rethink the whole system. “
The Hercules project is the story of a give and take. To obtain the colossal financial means required by the modernization of current reactors, the construction of six EPRs, EDF, a 100% public company, should open up the capital of its profitable activities (distribution and marketing, dams, renewable energies). The operation would give rise to a split between a “blue EDF” (nuclear), still in the bosom of the state, and “green EDF” (mainly Enedis) and perhaps “azure” (dams) partially privatized. The icing on the cake: “Blue EDF” would still be forced to sell at a reduced price, albeit a little reassessed, part of its electricity to its competitors.
The days of mobilization highlight these issues all the better as the discussions on the future of the public electricity service are played out in the shadow of videoconferences between the government and the European Commission, the latter scrupulously ensuring competition. free and not distorted. The social movements of the agents, the recent letter sent by the four leaders of the CGT, CFDT, FO and CFE-CGC to Emmanuel Macron for the abandonment of the project, added to the opposition expressed publicly by the deputies of the left and some -one of their LR counterparts, have cut off Hercules croupiers.
United in this fight, the four federations representing energy companies have succeeded in forcing the doors of EDF management, the Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, and European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, to make themselves heard. “Our days of mobilization are so many highlights so that the agents can show their determination, estimates Sébastien Menesplier, of the CGT. The more there are, the less this project can slip through. ”