The European Union antitrust regulators have opened an investigation into whether the green tax reductions in France for large energy users give the companies a “selective advantage”.
France levies a surcharge on all consumers to finance its drive for wind power. It subsidises renewable energy projects with a tax called CSPE which is levied on consumers’ bills but provides exceptions for energy intensive industries.
Industrial firms, which use at least 3GWh of electricity per year, pay a reduced rate up to 0.5% of their annual value added and have their CSPE tax capped at €550,000 per facility every year.
The European Commission however said such exceptions could breach EU state aid rules.
It said: “These reductions appear to give large electricity consumers a selective advantage that could distort competition in the Single Market. The possibility of such reductions is not foreseen under the 2008 Guidelines on Environmental Aid which are currently applicable.
“In parallel, the Commission is in the process of revising its guidelines and is considering including provisions allowing reductions for energy intensive users under certain conditions in order to preserve competitiveness.”
France aims to increase the share of electricity generated by renewable energy sources from 15% to 23% by 2020.