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France - Electricity

Many people still get their electricity from EDF in France although there are now other providers of electricity services and you are free to choose whichever provider you want to use in your own area. The electrical system is the same as in the UK, working on a 220-240v system so if you have the right plugs on your electrical equipment it should work well. Plugs in France are the two pin version and adaptors are readily available for different types of plugs. If you are taking appliances to France from other parts of the world you may need transformers in order for them to work, but a local electrician will be able to advise you about this.

Customers in France can choose the level of supply that they want between 3kw and 36kw and you can take into consideration the size of your home, the type of heating that you have installed and the number and frequency of use of your electrical appliances. This level will affect the standing charge that you pay. If you are using several appliances at once and your electricity trips then you may need to upgrade the level of supply that you receive if you find this inconvenient.

Rural areas in France are prone to power cuts, particularly when there are storms. In these areas it is recommended that you fit surge protectors as a sudden surge of electricity can damage an appliance. In some areas people will unplug all appliances in the event of a storm, even their TV aerial.

Electricity meters are usually fitted outside the house, so when they are read you are not disturbed. Occasionally you may find that your meter is some distance away from your house and occasionally these are located on poles. It is an obligation to provide an actual reading at least once in every 12 months, so you should ensure that not all your bills are estimated. Meters are only usually read every six months. If you want to have an actual bill each time you can submit your own meter reading.

Bills will usually arrive every two or three months, depending upon your account. You will pay a standing charge (abonnement) and you will be expected to pay VAT. There are differing rates for the standing charge and the actual electricity consumption. These are broken down on the bill. You should also expect to be charged local taxes. Your bill will state clearly on the front the amount that is due (montant a regler) and there will also be a date by which you need to pay the bill. You are given your own customer reference numbers and you should quote this in all correspondence with the company.

In order to pay your bill you can set up a direct debit system will give you a set amount each month to pay which is based on your estimated usage. You can also pay directly into the bank account of the electricity company or simply send a cheque each time you receive a bill. Bills can also be paid online but setting up the online account needs a certain level of proficiency in French.

If you need to open an electricity account in France then there is a certain amount of documentation that you need. If you are purchasing a property then the notary will need to give you a document known as an ‘attestation’ which will give you access to the various public services that you will need for the property. You will need this if the previous tenant has closed the electricity account with the provider. Other information required may include proof of ID, information on your main home if the account is being established for a second property or a copy of a tenancy agreement if you are renting a property.

Applications for an account can be made over the internet although this can only be done in French. EDF does have an English speaking customer service department for all enquiries. You will need to sign a contract for the supply and the electricity company will arrange for the meter to be read. Following the meter reading your supply should be switched on.

Useful Resources

7 bd Ney
75018 Paris
Tel: 05 62 16 49 08 (staffed with English speakers)

Read more about this country

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