French government is considering extending the benefit of energy vouchers to more households to ease the cost of rising energy bills, the government’s spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday (15 September).
Attal told reporters that Prime Minister Jean Castex will make announcements on the matter in the coming days.
Households across Europe face much higher winter energy bills due to a global surge in wholesale power and gas prices and consumer groups have warned the most vulnerable in the region could be hit by fuel poverty as a result.
“The increase in (energy) prices is leading us to work on this scheme (of energy checks) and to look at the need to extend it so that it can benefit more French people,” Attal said after a cabinet meeting.
Energy vouchers are currently granted to nearly 5.5 million households in France.
A record run in energy prices that pushed European electricity costs to multi-year highs is unlikely to ease before the year-end, pointing to an expensive winter heating season for consumers.
Spot prices in the Dutch TTF gas hub reached a record high €79 per megawatt hour, or more than $960 per 1,000 cubic metres, on Wednesday amid low levels of underground gas storage in Europe.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that European customers of Kremlin-owned energy giant Gazprom were “rubbing their hands with glee” over long-term gas contracts which are tied to oil prices and are less volatile.
A rapid startup of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany could help calm record-high gas prices in Europe, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.