PARIS A new French energy bill aims to cap nuclear power production at current level and leave any reactor closures to be decreed later in five-year programming plans, according to measures unveiled by Energy Minister Segolene Royal on Wednesday.
The cap will be set at 63.2 gigawatts (GW), effectively forcing EDF to shut some nuclear capacity if it wants to connect its Flamanville reactor under construction to the grid in 2016 as planned, making the closure of the Fessenheim plant on the German border inevitable.
But apart from Fessenheim, which President Francois Hollande promised during his presidential campaign to shutter, the fate of other nuclear reactors will be left to so-called "multi-year energy plans" to be passed by decree later on.
Hollande, who had pledged to cut atomic energy to 50 percent of French power output by 2025 from the current 75 percent - the highest share in the world - has met stiff resistance from unions and local politicians over any potential plant closures.
Royal, his fourth energy minister since election in 2012, is keen to avoid a public focus on the nuclear question and ensure a swift adoption in parliament of a that also contains a series of measures to boost renewable sources and energy savings.
A tax credit worth 30 percent of households' insulation bills will be introduced for renovation work carried out between Sept. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2015.
Drivers taking diesel-powered cars to the scrapyard and buying an electric vehicle instead will be entitled to a bonus of up to 10,000 euros ($13,500) (7953.11 pounds).
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Brian Love)